biography


Bill Reid's Sculpture
Photo of Raven and the First Men by Dom H UK used under a Creative Commons license.

Maria Tippett, Bill Reid: The Making of an Indian (Vintage Canada, 2004).
A biography of Reid, who was born in 1920 to a Haida mother and a white father, and who came to be seen as one of the foremost Northwest Coast Native artists and a vital figure in the development of its contemporary arts scene. Reid was associated with the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, home to one of his best-known works, The Raven and the First Men, among others, and it was part of his work to make sure that Native arts were represented there as a living tradition, not bygone history. Reid identified himself as white early in his life and as Haida later, and Tippett makes the case that many of his successes owe to his ability to walk the frontier between the two worlds.

Here is a bio of Tippett, and here is the citation (.pdf) when she was awarded an honorary degree by Simon Fraser University in 2006. Here’s a review by Kenneth R. Lister in the University of Toronto Quaterly. Robert Bringhurst, a writer and friend of Reid, thinks Tippett was “incredibly deaf to what Reid accomplished.” See also Stephany Aulenback at Maud Newton. Boy, these materials from the CBC are pretty cool. Here is bloggy reaction to the book. Here and here are more on Reid (n.b. – yes, the first url has a spelling error). Here is a slideshow of some of Reid’s work – sadly, in the news because pieces he made were recently stolen from UBC.

Buy it at Amazon.com.

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Nuer girls
Photo of Nuer girls by joodmc used under a Creative Commons license.

Deborah Scroggins, Emma’s War (Vintage, 2004).
Emma McCune, beautiful and idealistic, went to Sudan as a relief worker in 1989. Within a couple of years she married Riek Machar, a commander of one faction of the rebels in Sudan’s long-running civil war. The war in Darfur gets more attention now, but for years a conflict has simmered between the Islamic north, which controls the national government, and the Christian south. McCune married into this conflict, a choice that eventually forced her away from relief organizations. This story of her life is worth reading for what it reveals about how relief organizations work in Africa and for its window onto the tragic politics of southern Sudan.

Multiple reviews on this page: Sondra Hale (Women’s Review of Books), George Packer (The New York Times), Kevin Rushby (The Guardian), Geraldine Bedell (The Observer), Clay Evans (The Sacramento Bee), Bernadette Murphy (The L.A. Times), Lesley McDowell (Sunday Herald), an unnamed reviewer in The Economist, Justin Marozzi (The Daily Telegraph), and Sam Kiley (The Evening Standard). Among the other things on this page is a review by Venetia Ansell (Contemporary Review). Here more reviews from Michelle Goldberg (Salon), Nana Yaa Mensah (The New Statesman), and Julie Flint (The Independent). And here is more good stuff from Rebekah Heacock, Lindsay Beyerstein, Virginia Stem Owens, Sara, and Mercato. Over here you can listen to Scroggins talk about McCune and the book on BBC Radio.

Buy it at Amazon.com.