on April 22, 2001
Being an amateur historian and an amateur photographer, I profited immensely from reading this novel. I have studied western America since my college days. Of course, the American Indian plays a dramatic role in that history. I taught Indian lore as a camp counselor. The pictures of Edward Curtis for most of my life filled me with inspiration. However, something did not ring true. The aborigine's romanticized photos were out of sync with my critical approach to history. Fergus's novel does what no purely objectivist historian can do: convey to the reader an emotional appreciation of the reality of the subject of the candid camera. Being a photographer, I am sensitive to the stilted character of most of the photographs people take of their friends and others. This book is a powerful teaching tool for such picture takers. Perhaps, the book lesson of the book can be summed up in a short sentence uttered by heroine Annie Owns the Fire: "You see better what is going on by not looking directly at the subject."