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Book Details

Old Magic

Lives of the Desert Shamans

For a thousand generations, desert shamans of the far West sought order in the stars and in the mysteries and wonder of their grand, if unforgiving landscape. When summoned, they doctored the stricken, be they stoic elders or frightened little children. They conjured rains. Taking leave of reality, they rode whirlwinds and soared in magical flight. They epitomized a Native American ability “to relate to the land in ways beyond a Western way of thinking.” They’re gone now. But there remain telling accounts of how, day-to-day, they lived how omens foretold a shaman’s destiny, how he learned his craft, how he could exercise his power for both good and evil. How a shaman could travel to the land of the dead and (hopefully) return. Drawing on the lore of a dozen tribes, Old Magic conjures the year-to-year life of a shaman – a life of service to his people, a life fraught with torment and danger, a life often taking a man or woman to the edge of madness.

About the Author

Nicholas Clapp

Award-winning documentary filmmaker and author Nicholas Clapp has studied, filmed, and written the deserts of the world. With a master's degree in cinema from the University of Southern California, his first professional break came when he produced and directed The Great Mojave Desert, a one-hour special for CBS and the National Geographic Society. He has won over 70 major film awards for his documentary work.

As an author, his distinguished previous publications include The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands and Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen. His interest in the Queen of Sheba drew him to the story of the Queen of Sheba Mine in Death Valley and to its mining engineer, leading to his last work, Who Killed Chester Pray? It was while researching for this book that Clapp discovered the many rare photographs of America's Last Frontier. With the detailed eye of a cinematographer, Clapp has noted the most exacting details in each of the photographs selected for this book a final look at life on this Last Frontier.