To Catch the Lightning (Hardcover)

A Novel of American Dreaming

By Alan Cheuse

Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781402214042, 502pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2008

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (10/1/2009)

List Price: 25.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


""Until someone tells you, you never know in whose dreams you appear...""
"- From the prologue of To Catch the Lightning"

What is the price of our dreams?

Beginning in the late 1890s, Edward Sheriff Curtis undertook the seemingly overwhelming odyssey of capturing the past, of documenting and photographing the fading way of life of the American Indian.

In To Catch the Lightning, Alan Cheuse has created a remarkable portrait of the man who would become a legend. Drawn on his epic journey by a series of female muses, Curtis turns his lens on a landscape of unparalleled beauty and tradition. Curtis' desire to complete his destiny as foretold by Chief Joseph, to photograph all of the hundreds of western American Indian tribes, is a haunting tale of the struggle between ambition and duty.

The architect of the finest lasting visual record of a culture close to extinction, Curtis stands as a testament to the power of the sacrifices we make for the dreams that compel us.

With the ear of a poet and the eye of a historian, Cheuse has crafted a masterwork of American historical fiction. Lyrical, beautifully written, and impressively researched, To Catch the Lightning is a novel of the American spirit.


"To Catch the Lightning is a story of loss - of choices made and prices paid, of the future coming fast and the past disappearing faster. Cheuse's narrative is refracted through multiple voices, each distinct, but each containing its own poetic precision. A wonderful, wonderful book of quiet power and great beauty."
- Karen Joy Fowler, author of Wit's End and The Jane Austen Book Club

"To Catch the Lightning tells Curtis' story vividly and eloquently. It is a great American story, about a life spent preserving and honoring those elements of life which are most respected and beloved. Alan Cheuse is to be congratulated for this vivid novel."
- William Kittredge, author of The Willow Field and The Next Rodeo

"Bravo to Cheuse for this incarnation of a major and unfairly forgotten American artist, capturing an era so crucial in native American, and therefore American history. I found it immediate and innovative."
- Diane Johnson, author of Le Divorce and Lulu in Marrakech

"The photography and cinema of Edward Curtis exist at the intersection of art, history, anthropology, and technology. He was an essentially American kind of genius, and Alan Cheuse has transformed his life into compelling fiction that digs deep into the mystery and sacrifice and selfishness of creative vision."
- Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons

..". the narrative brims with keen insight."
- Publishers Weekly

"Curtis devoted his life to creating the most significant and comprehensive retrospective of American Indian culture, which he viewed as 'one of the great races of mankind.' Curtis correctly predicted that the culture was near extinction ... and much of his work remains the only recorded history of a civilization even then becoming the stuff of legend."
- ForeWord Magazine