cover image Shadow Catcher: The Life and Work of Edward S. Curtis

Shadow Catcher: The Life and Work of Edward S. Curtis

Laurie Lawlor. Walker & Company, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8288-5

Lawlor (Addie Across the Prairie) engagingly chronicles the life and work of photographer-ethnologist Edward S. Curtis (1868- 1952), perhaps best known for his 20-volume The North American Indian, a collection of photographs and written histories of the tribes he spent more than 30 years studying. According to Lawlor, Curtis sacrificed much for his determination to record a culture he believed to be on the brink of extinction. The lively text focuses on his struggles, from his beginnings as a studio photographer in 1890s Seattle to his neverending quest for financial support from the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, to his patience in winning the trust of the people he sought to memorialize. Although openly admiring, Lawlor does not shy away from more problematic aspects of Curtis's career-she acknowledges that he staged events for the camera and posed his subjects, and that his obsession with his mission impoverished and eventually unraveled his family. The exquisitely designed book (printed in sepia on cream paper) contains scores of Curtis's haunting photographs, as well as portraits of Curtis and his family. Ages 10-up. (Dec.)