Follow the Author

Follow the Author

I often read based on the subject. But if I like the book, I follow the author.

The author I’m following these days is Timothy Egan, a journalist who had a long stint as a New York Times correspondent, shared a Pulitzer Prize with his colleagues, and now writes books.

I first encountered, or thought I first encountered, Egan at last year’s Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. There, he presented his shocking and terrific A Fever in the Heartland, about the rise and fall of the Ku Klux Klan in twentieth-century America, which I reviewed recently.

When I finished the book, I checked Egan’s other titles and was surprised to find I had already finished one of his others, The Worst Hard Time. It won the National Book Award and was a key source for Ken Burns’s TV documentary about the Dust Bowl.

A few weeks later, listening to Rick Steves’s radio travel show, Steves interviewed Timothy Egan about yet another of his books, The Immortal Irishman, the remarkable story of Thomas Francis Meagher, who rebelled against the English, was exiled to Tasmania, and eventually fought for the Union in America's Civil War.

I wasn’t following Egan; he was following me.

I excitedly read Meagher’s story, then moved on to another: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis.

Curtis was an amazing character, a brilliant photographic pioneer who, unlike fellow pioneers Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz, used his skills to document the lives of Native American people before their unique traditions were lost. His photos and words are one of the great artistic and archeological achievements of the twentieth century.

I’ve now read four of Egan’s books, on wildly diverse subjects, all of which I find fascinating. Part of the fun in following authors, it turns out, is charting their interests and matching them with your own.

I’m eager to learn what Timothy Egan will write about next.


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