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Black Elk by Joe Jackson
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Black Elk

The Life of an American Visionary

$20.99 USD

Retail price (USD): $24.95

Discount: 16%

This title is not eligible for purchase with membership credits. Why?

Narrator Traber Burns
Length 22 hours 29 minutes
Language English
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Here is the epic life story of the Native American holy man who has inspired millions around the world.

Black Elk, the Native American holy man, is known to millions of readers around the world from his 1932 testimonial, Black Elk Speaks. Adapted by the poet John Neihardt from a series of interviews, it is one of the most widely read and admired works of American Indian literature. Cryptic and deeply personal, it has been read as a spiritual guide, a philosophical manifesto, and a text to be deconstructed—while the historical Black Elk has faded from view.

In this sweeping book, Joe Jackson provides the definitive biographical account of a figure whose dramatic life converged with some of the most momentous events in the history of the American West.

Born in an era of rising violence, Black Elk killed his first man at Little Big Horn, witnessed the death of his second cousin Crazy Horse, and traveled to Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. Upon his return, he was swept up in the traditionalist Ghost Dance movement and shaken by the massacre at Wounded Knee. But Black Elk was not a warrior and instead chose the path of a healer and holy man, motivated by a powerful prophetic vision that haunted and inspired him, even after he converted to Catholicism in his later years.

In Black Elk, Jackson has crafted a true American epic, restoring to Black Elk the richness of his times and gorgeously portraying a life of heroism and tragedy, adaptation and endurance, in an era of permanent crisis on the Great Plains.

Joe Jackson is the author of one novel and six works of nonfiction, including Atlantic Fever: Lindbergh, His Competitors, and the Race to Cross the Atlantic. His book The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber, Power, and the Seeds of Empire was named one of Time magazine’s top ten nonfiction books of 2008. His Leavenworth Train was a finalist for the 2002 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime Book.

Traber Burns worked for thirty-five years in regional theater, including the New York, Oregon, and Alabama Shakespeare festivals. He also spent five years in Los Angeles appearing in many television productions and commercials, including Lost, Close to Home, Without a Trace, Boston Legal, Grey’s Anatomy, Cold Case, Gilmore Girls, and others.

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Reviews

“The book is read superbly with matter-of-fact pacing and clarity by Traber Burns, who distinguishes between text, dialogue and quotation with subtle modulation. He executes the many Indian names and expressions gracefully, doing justice throughout to a very great book.”

“Traber Burns provides a narrative performance that resides somewhere between that of a devoted professor and a wise storyteller. That’s fitting, because this is a deep, detailed historical document.”

“Jackson…creates a deeply felt and personal story of loss and change on the plains…The long set piece concerning the Battle of the Little Bighorn is among the very best I’ve ever read.”

“It is an extraordinary life—from fighting in the Battle of the Little Bighorn to touring Europe with Buffalo Bill to growing old on the reservation…[recounted] in Joe Jackson’s excellent biography,…The Black Hills, an ancient American sacred space, are like a cave mouth opening towards the sky, and Black Elk is one of its great voices.”

“Jackson’s fascinating biography tells the true story of this American holy man.”

“Remarkably researched and beautifully told…shifting in subtle ways the stories we thought we knew.”

“By far the most comprehensive biography of its subject to date. Jackson portrays Native Americans with a clear-eyed sympathy that avoids sentimentality, bringing historical figures such as Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Sitting Bull to life and providing fascinating insights into Indian life, culture, and, most notably, religion.”

“Leaves the reader in awe of Black Elk’s struggle to help his people preserve their culture.”

“Stirring, wide-ranging biography of the Sioux elder whose testimonials underlay ‘one of the twentieth century’s most important documents on Native American culture’…Surveys a broad swath of world history to place the Lakota spiritual leader in that terribly eventful context, and he does excellent work in doing so…One of the best moments in a book marked by many is Jackson’s in-passing examination of the role of the American media in fueling the Indian Wars…Of much literary and historical merit.”

“Jackson panoramically renders a narrative as majestic as the American West in this fine account of the life of Black Elk…A major contribution to Native American history.”

“Jackson endeavors to extricate the historical Black Elk from the mythology surrounding his legacy…Fascinating.”

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