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Download Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary Audiobook, by Joe Jackson Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joe Jackson Narrator: Traber Burns Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2016 ISBN: 9781504754347
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Here is the epic life story of the Native American holy man who has inspired millions around the world.

Black Elk, the Native American holy man, is known to millions of readers around the world from his 1932 testimonial, Black Elk Speaks. Adapted by the poet John Neihardt from a series of interviews, it is one of the most widely read and admired works of American Indian literature. 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 the history of the American West.

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. Upon his return, he was swept up in the traditionalist Ghost Dance movement and shaken by the massacre at Wounded Knee. But Black Elk was not a warrior and 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.

In Black Elk, Jackson has crafted a true American epic, restoring to Black Elk the richness of his times and gorgeously portraying a life of heroism and tragedy, adaptation and endurance, in an era of permanent crisis on the Great Plains.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Jackson has expertly…situated Black Elk in the context of Indian struggles on the plains from 1850 through 1950…[and] creates a deeply felt and personal story of loss and change on the plains…The long set piece concerning the Battle of the Little Bighorn is among the very best I’ve ever read.”

    Washington Post

  • “The book is read superbly with matter-of-fact pacing and clarity by Traber Burns, who distinguishes between text, dialogue and quotation with subtle modulation. He executes the many Indian names and expressions gracefully, doing justice throughout to a very great book.”

    Washington Post (audio review)

  • “Remarkably researched and beautifully told…shifting in subtle ways the stories we thought we knew.”

    National Book Review

  • “Jackson’s fascinating biography tells the true story of this American holy man.”


  • “Jackson does a magnificent job…in what is by far the most comprehensive biography of its subject to date. Jackson portrays Native Americans with a clear-eyed sympathy that avoids sentimentality, bringing historical figures such as Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Sitting Bull to life and providing fascinating insights into Indian life, culture, and, most notably, religion.”

    Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk)

  • “Stirring…Of much literary and historical merit and a fine addition to the shelves of anyone interested in this part of America’s unhappy past.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Jackson’s enlightening account…leaves the reader in awe of Black Elk’s struggle to help his people preserve their culture.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Jackson panoramically renders a narrative as majestic as the American West in this fine account of the life of Black Elk…A major contribution to Native American history.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A deep, detailed historical document…important and relevant to our understanding of the American West.”


  • “Jackson endeavors to extricate the historical Black Elk from the mythology surrounding his legacy…Fascinating.”

    Library Journal

  • A Washington Post Best Audiobook of 2016
  • A Millions.com Pick for Most Anticipated Nonfiction Book of 2016
  • Winner of the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography
  • A Boston Globe Pick of the Best Books of 2016
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About the Author

Joe Jackson is the author of one novel and six works of nonfiction, including The Thief at the End of the World, named one of Time’s best nonfiction books of 2008.

About the Narrator

Traber Burns worked for thirty-five years in regional theater, including the New York, Oregon, and Alabama Shakespeare festivals. He also spent five years in Los Angeles appearing in many television productions and commercials, including Lost, Close to Home, Without a Trace, Boston Legal, Grey’s Anatomy, Cold Case, Gilmore Girls, and others.