The Long Shadows: A True-Life Novel

The Long Shadows is a fascinating true-life novel about Jacob Reuben Erlich, who, at 8 foot 6, was among the tallest men in the world. Best known by his stage name, Jack Earle, he would overcome crippling shyness, depression, temporary blindness and the physical challenges of a giant’s frame to earn widespread acclaim during his career as a silent film star, circus performer, artist, poet and vaudevillian.

Drawing on ten years of research culled from family lore, newspaper archives, historical documents and the recorded recollections of Earle’s contemporaries, author Andrew Erlich weaves a fascinating bio-fictional account of a remarkable man and the cast of colorful characters who knew him. Along the way, we learn a great deal about courage, character, and one man’s unique perspective on a broad sweep of history that encompassed the Great Depression, the immigrant experience in turn-of-the-century Texas, silent films, life in the circus, the modern art movement and the domestic anti-Semitism that accompanied the run-up to World War II.


View this video excerpt from Freeing the Giant, Dr. Andrew Erlich’s inspiring keynote presentation about the fascinating life of his Uncle Jake.