Great book! I was not at all familiar with the work of Edward Curtis, but was very familiar with Timothy Egan’s work as a writer and he does not disappoint. Egan captures the portrait of a man in the early 20th century who happens to luck into photography and begins his career taking studio/portraits in the young city of Seattle. Through several events, he eventually begins traveling to photograph Native American Indian tribes, as well as capturing language, songs, and traditions.
There is much that I could say about this book, but it is perhaps one of the best reads that I’ve done in the past year. It was tough to put down and easy to pick up again. The story is compelling and Timothy Egan tells it well.
His portrayal of the women in Curtis’s life is especially well done and revealing. In addition he is able to articulate the attitudes that the conquerors held toward the conquered, how Indians were slowly being crushed and relegated to the forgotten memory of a nation that was expanding westward. The diminution of Indian religious beliefs Curtis challenged by trying to capture ceremonies and expressions of belief at great potential cost to himself and those that he photographed.
Great read. Read it, read it, read it.