Timothy Egan, in the last home of Thomas Francis Meagher, Irish revolutionary, Civil War general, Acting Governor of Montana Territory, and subject of my next book, an Irish-American story to be published in March of 2016.


                           SHORT NIGHTS OF THE SHADOW CATCHER

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Winner: Carnegie Medal, best nonfiction book of 2012

Winner: Chautauqua Prize, best book of 2012

Also, named best book by:

Publishers Weekly, The Christian Science Monitor

Amazon.com and The New York Times.


“This is a riveting biography of an American original.” —Boston Globe

“His biography of photographer Edward Curtis mesmerizes– it’s instructive, entertaining and a joy to read…When it comes to superlative historical writing, this is as good as it gets.”Shelf Awareness

In this hauntingly beautiful book, Egan brings Curtis to life as vividly and with as much depth, heart and understanding as Curtis himself put into his timeless portraits. This is a story for the ages.”–Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic

Starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. 

“Terrific,” says the Wall Street Journal in a rave.

 “Marvelous, rollicking…Egan has found yet another great subject and crafted yet another great narrative.” –S.C. Gwynne, author Empire of the Summer Moon. 

Buy the Book:

 “As with Egan’s last two narrative works of history, the Big Burn and the National Book Award-winning Worst Hard Time, the author gracefully transforms the past into vivid scenes that employ all five senses.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune                                                                  

Short Nights is not only the marvelous and rollicking account of life of one of America’s extraordinary photographers. It is also a book about the extreme personal cost of outsized ambition. Edward Curtis undertook one of the most epic cultural projects in American history–photographing and documenting the vanishing ways of life of some 80 American Indian tribes. It cost him almost everything he once was.  And still he persisted, turning out some of the greatest photographic and ethnological work ever done. Egan has found yet another great subject, and has crafted yet another great narrative around it.” –S.C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon

Meet the Author

Kirkus Starred ReviewNew York Times Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Egan (The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, 2009, etc.) returns with the story of the astonishing life of Edward Curtis (1868–1952), whose photographs of American Indians now command impressive prices at auction….

 Lucent prose illuminates a man obscured for years in history’s shadows.” 

Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review: “Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times journalist Egan (The Worst Hard Time) turns his attention to one of Seattle’s most remarkable—yet all but forgotten—residents. In the late 19th century, Edward Curtis was the era’s reigning portrait photographer, so well respected that President Theodore Roosevelt chose him to photograph his daughter’s wedding. Yet in 1900, at the height of his fame, Curtis gave it up to pursue what would become his life’s work—’a plan to photograph all the intact Native American tribes left in North America’ before their ways of life disappeared. This idea received the backing of J.P. Morgan and culminated in a critically acclaimed 20-volume set, The North American Indian, which took Curtis 30 years to complete and left him divorced and destitute. Unfailingly sympathetic to his subject, Egan shadows Curtis as he travels from Roosevelt’s summer home at Sagamore Hill to the mesas and canyons of the Southwest tribes and to the rain forests of the Coastal Indians and the isolated tundra on Nunivak Island. Egan portrays the dwindling tribes, their sacred rites (such as the Hopi snake dance), customs, and daily lives, and captures a larger-than-life cast. With a reporter’s eye for detail, Egan delivers a gracefully written biography and adventure story. “

–Watch “The Big Burn,” on PBS.



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