Black Elk witnessed some of the most monumental moments in the history of the Lakota and the Northern Great Plains: Red Cloud’s War, the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the murder of Crazy Horse, Wounded Knee. In his compelling new biography, Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary
(Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2016), award-winning nonfiction writer and journalist Joe Jackson
tells the story of this place and these events through the chronicle of Black Elk’s life. As one of the most globally famous practitioners of Lakota spirituality, Black Elk’s life is well known. Jackson uses an array of sources to breathe new life into his story and presents the complicated, sometimes tragic, sometimes hopeful figure within his historical context. Jackson’s prose is crisp and vibrant, and the narrative of Black Elk’s religious and personal lives make for a page-turning story. Black Elk: The Fife of an American Visionary
won the 2017 Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians.
Stephen Hausmann is a doctoral candidate at Temple University and Visiting Instructor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently writing his dissertation, a history of race and the environment in the Black Hills and surrounding northern plains region of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.