Tag Archives: History of the American West

A Book Review of Timothy Egan’s – Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis

It’s terribly difficult after finishing the 6th in a series of Timothy Egan’s books to declare a favorite. Yet,   Egan’s  Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis – is -well – it broke my heart.

The life and times of “fanatical” (self described) artists like Edward Curtis are rarely full of fulfilling, float you on air happiness.  Yet, his life had many interactions and endorsements by the day’s rich and famous (Teddy Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan to name two).

A man who attempted to capture the remnants of an ever encroaching genocide of the remaining inhabitants of the western tribes of Native Americans is a noble story. And noble is the way Egan tells it. Yet, it leaves you (the trajectory of Curtis’s life) unfulfilled…as the life stories of so many artists do.

How Egan finds these tales and has the uncanny ability to weave story in and around the real-life characters he portrays – is – well – a mysterious literary talent that I’m unsure if even he could describe it adequately. The book, story, prose, research and Egan’s writing just make you salivate for the next page.

This is an unequivocal FIVE STAR work (which I don’t attribute to most literature I read). It is a treasure – just as the life of Edward Curtis and his enduring work was/is. I am really glad I read this book. You will be too.

I am now on to my 7th Egan book in the past three weeks (which I NEVER do); The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became An American Hero (2016).

You simply CANNOT understand the American West without Reading Timothy Egan…PERIOD.

ENJOY!!!


 

Lasso The Wind by Timothy Egan – A Review by Bill Dahl

I have a longstanding personal discipline when it comes to selecting books to read; every 5th book or so –  I require myself to read something published approximately 10+ years ago.  Thus, I encountered author Timothy Egan for the first time. Tonight, I just ordered three more of his books (I started my second Egan work last night)…

Lasso The Wind

I was absolutely – blown away – pardon the unintentional poor pun – by Lasso the Wind…I could NOT put it down. Spellbinding, literary talent beyond you wildest imagination, research to warp your mind, fantastic story-teller, unparalleled non-fiction and a contributor to American history the likes of which I have never encountered. Needless to say, I am now addicted to Egan’s work!

I typically read somewhere between 60-100 books a year. As of August 2017, Lasso The Wind is my unequivocal year to date favorite.

The way Egan weaves his storytelling and his research is – well – it’s simply unique and deeply engaging for the reader. JUST BUY THIS BOOK!!!

The history of the American West is widely and deeply inhabited by fictional myth. Egan eviscerates that B.S. in a way that leads one not only to a new, better informed understanding – but – leaves you inspired to continue to be curious about common understandings of history – and to examine the notion of “progress” that continues to lead humans to do unthinkable things to one another – and the planet we inhabit.

An absolute treasure…Trust me!!! Expect to read into the wee hours of the morning…I did. A book – and an ARTIST (author) for a broad audience. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


 

Cattle Kingdom – The Hidden History of the Cowboy West by Christopher Knowlton – A Review by Bill Dahl

I have read extensively about the history of the American West. It’s a book like Cattle Kingdom that excites me about the fact that the myths that oftentimes inhabit our historical understanding  – can and will be displaced – and rewritten – when exquisitely talented authors like Christopher Knowlton take the reins.

Cattle Kingdom

The depth and breadth of the research that this work contains supports the authors thesis – confirming that history is subject to unearthing new and yet unrevealed discoveries – that can provide the sinew for a new understanding. Knowlton unequivocally demonstrates this unique  journalistic talent. Knowlton’s prose and storytelling ability are hypnotic and mesmerizing.

This is distinctly not a story that requires a preference for tales about the American West. The manner in which Knowlton weaves his story – and brings life to the characters and context – will draw readers who simply desire a really, really good book.

I must admit I had some reluctance deciding whether or not to purchase this volume. I overcame that and am really glad I did.

Many aspects of this book will bring tears to your eyes, ripping your heart apart. You’ll get angry and disgusted. The drama that Knowlton brings to life is addictive…it’s a page turning pleasure. The decimation of the Bison herds had me smelling the carnage that Knowlton described.

For those with an affinity for garnering a better understanding of the American cowboy, the influences in the development of the American West, the cattle industry, the origins of the nature of land ownership in the Western U.S. psyche, the influence of capital in the development of the American West, the beef industry, conservation, wildlife management – and – again – those who desire to be immersed in a truly fascinating true tale – well – this book is for you.

I honestly can’t imagine anyone selecting this book to devour and not coming away completely satisfied about their decision.

Frankly, I urge you to select Christopher Knowlton as your guide to the hidden history of the cowboy West. You’ll be delighted you did. Trust me…believe me…A PHENOMENAL BOOK!!!

YEEHAW!!!