Prize-winning journalist and author Timothy Egan will present the Cecil D. Andrus Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the Student Union Jordan Ballroom. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Egan will talk about the state of American politics in the wake of the 2012 elections. He also will discuss his latest book, titled “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis.”
“Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher” focuses on one of the largest individual anthropological enterprises ever undertaken. When Curtis began his great undertaking in 1896, Native Americans were at their low ebb, with a total population that had dwindled to less than 250,000. Curtis set out to document lifestyle, creation myths and language. He recorded more than 10,000 songs on a primitive wax cylinder and wrote down vocabularies and pronunciation guides for 75 languages. The result was his magnum opus, “The North American Indian,” a 20-volume text-and-image extravaganza, published between 1907 and 1930, that was praised and then forgotten in short order. Curtis died alone, a pauper, in a small Southern California apartment.
Egan worked for The New York Times for 18 years as Pacific Northwest correspondent and a national enterprise reporter. In 2001, he was part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that wrote the series “How Race is Lived in America.”
He has written seven books, including the National Book Award-winning “The Worst Hard Time,” a history of the Dust Bowl era in the 1930s, and “The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America,” a fascinating history of the devastating forest fires that swept across northern Idaho in 1910.