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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Black Elk Biography Continues to Rack up National Accolades

Old Dominion's Joe Jackson was recently named the 2017 winner of the Society of American Historians' prestigious Francis Parkman Prize. The award adds to significant national recognition Jackson's biography of the influential Sioux leader Black Elk has already garnered since its release late last year.

Jackson holds the Mina Hohenberg Darden Chair in Creative Writing at Old Dominion. In March, "Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary" was selected as the 2017 winner of the PEN American Literary Award in the biography category. It marked the first time a member of the University's masters of fine arts faculty won the prestigious designation. The book was also a finalist this spring for a National Book Critics Circle award.

On June 24, in Kansas City, MO, Jackson will be awarded the Western Writers of America 2017 Spur Award in the Best Western Biography category.

The Francis Parkman Prize, which carries an award of $2,000, is awarded annually to a nonfiction work of history on an American theme that is distinguished by its literary merit. The Society of American Historians' membership includes widely known journalists, authors and public figures including Ken Burns, Margaret Atwood, Clayborne Carson, Joan Didion, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Bill D. Moyers and Khalil Gibran Muhammad among others.

Jackson said being awarded the Parkman Prize is humbling.

"This is an award that has gone to books written by writers and historians of the caliber of Daniel Boorstin, David McCullough, and Robert Caro," he said. "I never imagined when I was writing "Black Elk" that it would be included in such a list. Now, I guess, I'll have to clean up my act, if that's possible."

"Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary," published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, chronicles the Sioux healer who participated in the Battle at Little Bighorn and once traveled to Europe with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. He adopted Catholicism in his 40s and in his later years blended the Catholic religion and Native American traditions.

The Boston Globe said Jackson's narrative skill makes this long biography a "gripping, even thrilling read." The Times Literary Supplement in London called the book "an astonishingly rich saga."

"Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary" is available for purchase at the University Village Bookstore on Monarch Way.

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