Birdwatcher: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson

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Roger Tory Peterson—the Renaissance man who taught Americans the joy of watching birds—also invented the modern field guide. His 1934 landmark Field Guide to the Birds was the first book designed to go outdoors and help people identify the elements of nature. This self-proclaimed “student of nature” combined spectacular writing with detailed illustrations to ultimately publish many other books, winning every possible award and medal for natural science, ornithology, and conservation. Peterson also traveled the ...

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Overview

Roger Tory Peterson—the Renaissance man who taught Americans the joy of watching birds—also invented the modern field guide. His 1934 landmark Field Guide to the Birds was the first book designed to go outdoors and help people identify the elements of nature. This self-proclaimed “student of nature” combined spectacular writing with detailed illustrations to ultimately publish many other books, winning every possible award and medal for natural science, ornithology, and conservation. Peterson also traveled the world, giving lectures on behalf of the National Audubon Society and, despite his self-effacing demeanor, becoming recognized as the key force to alerting the public to the importance of preserving nature. There are now an estimated 70 million birdwatchers in the United States.

For this meticulously detailed biography, Rosenthal has interviewed more than a hundred of Peterson’s family, friends, and associates to create a fully rounded portrait of this hero of the conservation movement. Never-before-seen photographs enhance this intimate portrayal. The book will be timed for his 100th birthday celebration in August, 2008.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 09/01/2013
In addition to Rosenthal's own entertaining, well-researched text, the fruits of her interviews with 112 key figures comprise a major component of this definitive biography of birding's Grand Master.
From the Publisher
"A wonderful biography, bold and surprising and lively, crackling with the adventures of the man who did more than anyone else to create the modern popularity of birdwatching."
-Kenn Kaufman, author of The Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America
 

"Birdwatcher is biographical alchemy, blending well researched detail, rich and varied anecdotes, and Roger in the first person with a writer's insight into the man who was, and remains, first among 'students of birds.'"
-Pete Dunne, Vice President, New Jersey Audubon Society
 

"Birdwatcher brings laughter, tears, profound admiration, and warm memories. To read it was to have Roger once again sitting in our kitchen, telling great tales, and every reader will feel that way too."
-Clay and Pat Sutton, authors of Birds and Birding at Cape May

"A brilliant, definitive biography of the man who made birdwatching the leading outdoor recreation in America."
-George H. Harrison, nature journalist, author, PBS producer
 
"Birdwatcher is more than a window into the life and creative process of one of the world's great ornithologists and artists-it's an exploration, through the words and memories of dozens of people who knew Roger Tory Peterson best, of how this remarkable man changed the conservation landscape for the better, and for good."
-Scott Weidensaul, author of Return to Wild America

"Through interviews with more than a hundred of Peterson's colleagues and protégés, Rosenthal weaves an entertaining biography that helps us understand why Peterson ranks among the world's most celebrated naturalists."
-Stephen W. Kress, Director, Audubon Seabird Restoration Program

"With verve and elegance Elizabeth Rosenthal paints the life of our most important naturalist with all the field marks filled in and life ways fleshed out."
-Robert Michael Pyle, author of Sky Time in Gray's River

"This fine biography breaks much new ground and contains abundant orginal material. . . . Peterson is one of those compelling figures for whom there cannot be too many biographies and tributes. Rosenthal's may be the best so far." -Bird Watcher's Digest

"Elizabeth J. Rosenthal has provided the most detailed account of his three marriages, driven work habits, and strenuous activities as explorer, author, photographer, conservationist, and public figure." -New York Review of Books

"An affectionate look at the person who became known as the Audubon of the 20th century." -Town & Country

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599212944
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
SECTION ONE.  FLEDGING

Chapter One.  Boy Rebel to Boy Wonder 

Chapter Two.  The Boy Wonder and the Conservative Conservationist

Chapter Three.  Postwar:  Spreading His Wings

SECTION TWO.  INTERCONTINENTAL MIGRATION

Chapter Four.  International Range

Chapter Five.  Anglo-American Mates in the U.S. Wild

SECTION THREE.  PARADOXICAL HOMO SAPIENS

Chapter Six.  Roger and Barbara – Super Pair

Chapter Seven.  A Natural Obsession

Chapter Eight.  Hidden Roger

SECTION FOUR.  CONSERVATION STORIES

Chapter Nine.  Embryonic Conservationism

Chapter Ten.  Adventuresome Flights of Conservation

Chapter Eleven.  DDT, the Osprey, and the Old Lyme Offspring

Chapter Twelve.  The Wilds of Lindblad

SECTION FIVE. INSPIRING FLIGHTS

Chapter Thirteen.  Worldwide Progeny

Chapter Fourteen.  Offerings

Chapter Fifteen.  Maturing with National Audubon

Chapter Sixteen.  Shooting Birds

Chapter Seventeen.  Painterly Birds

SECTION SIX.  BIRD MAN OF BIRD MEN

Chapter Eighteen.  Territory Under Challenge

Chapter Nineteen.  Still All Over the Range Map

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Recipe


Roger Tory Peterson—the Renaissance man who taught Americans the joy of watching birds—also invented the modern field guide. His 1934 landmark Field Guide to the Birds was the first bird-identification guide designed to be used in the field by the average person. Its success led to the best-selling Peterson Field Guide series, which has since taught millions about virtually all aspects of nature. Peterson combined fine writing with detailed and beautifully rendered illustrations, ultimately publishing many other books and winning virtually every award and medal for natural science, ornithology, and conservation. Before long, he became the birding and natural history guru to the world and was recognized as the key force in alerting the public to the importance of preserving nature. There are now an estimated 70 million birdwatchers in the United States.

For this meticulously detailed biography, author Elizabeth J. Rosenthal has created a fully rounded portrait of this hero of the conservation movement. Never-before-seen photographs enhance this intimate portrayal, which will be welcomed by Peterson’s enormous following.
Read More Show Less

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