Black Elk, the Native American holy man, is known to millions of readers around the world from his 1932 testimonial, Black Elk Speaks. 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 American history. 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. But Black Elk was not a warrior. He 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. His story is a true American epic, 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, most recently, Atlantic Fever: Lindbergh, His Competitors, and the Race to Cross the Atlantic (FSG, 2012). His book The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber, Power, and the Seeds of Empire was one of Time's Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2008. He is the Mina Hohenberg Darden Endowed Professor of Creative Writing in the M.F.A. creative writing program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.