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Peter Matthiessen - Author

About the Author

Peter Matthiessen is the author of more than thirty books and the only writer to win the National Book Award for both non-fiction (The Snow Leopard, in two categories, in 1979 and 1980) and fiction (Shadow Country, in 2008). A co-founder of The Paris Review and a world-renowned naturalist, explorer and activist, he died in April 2014.

Featured books by Peter Matthiessen

In Paradise

In Paradise

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/11/2014

In Paradise tells the story of a group of men and women who come together for a weeklong meditation retreat at the site of a World War II concentration camp, and the grief, rage and upsetting revelations that surface during their time together. Even as it probes the suffering, conflicts, and longings of these diverse characters, In Paradise raises provocative and unanswerable metaphysical questions: what responsibility comes with bearing witness to such cruelty and tragedy; and what insights into the nature of good and evil may be lost in the next decade or two, as the last survivors of - and witnesses to - the death camps pass away. Having participated in three Zen retreats at Auschwitz beginning in the 1990s, Matthiessen had long wished to comment on the ongoing fallout of last century's global catastrophe, but 'as a non-Jewish American journalist, I felt unqualified to do so, I felt I had no right. But approaching it as fiction - as a novelist, an artist - I eventually decided that I did. Only fiction would allow me to probe from a variety of viewpoints the great strangeness of what I had felt.'

Other books by Peter Matthiessen

East of Lo Monthang Splendours of a Himalayan Kingdom

East of Lo Monthang Splendours of a Himalayan Kingdom

Author: Peter Matthiessen, Thomas Laird Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2018

In its heyday (1400-1600), the kingdom of Lo dominated the Kali Gandaki River trade between India and Tibet. By the 18th century, Lo had lost control over this trade and had been incorporated into the modern Kingdom of Nepal. Isolated deep in the Himalayas, Lo's hereditary Rajas retained most of their feudal powers and the area remained closed to the outside world until 1991. In the spring of 1992, author Peter Matthiessen and photographer Tom Laird travelled deep in the secret valley of Sao Kohla, tucked high in the northernmost reaches of the Himalayas. They were the first Westerners to venture there in 30 years. From the central city of Lo Monthang, known as Mustang , Matthiessen and Laird, with an entourage of attendants and horsemen, began an expedition across arid plateaux and through narrow river chasms to reach precariously perched monasteries. They camped among nomad herdsmen who spent nights guarding their goats from predatory snow leopards. This book reveals an unknown land where peaks five miles high cast their shadows over the deepest canyon in the world and where mountain nomads spend their lives herding their flocks across desolate slopes and through desert valleys.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/12/2017

On a hot June morning in 1975, a shoot-out between FBI agents and American Indians erupted on a reservation near Wounded Knee in South Dakota. Two FBI agents and one Indian died. Eventually four Indians, all members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) were indicted on murder charges, Twenty-two years late, one of them, Leonard Peltier, is still serving two consecutive life sentences. The story of what really happened and why Matthiessen is convinced of Peltier's innocence, forms the central narrative in this classic work of investigative reporting. But Mathiessen also reveals the larger issues behind the Pine Ridge shoot-out: systematic discrimination by the white authorities; corporate determination to exploit the uranium deposits in the Black Hills; the breaking of treaties; and FBI hostility towards the AIM, which was set up to bring just such issues to light. When this book was first published it was immediately the subject of two $25 million-dollar legal actions that attempted to suppress it permanently. After eight years of court battles, ending with a Supreme Court judgement, Mathiessen won the right to tell Peltier's and his people's story.

Tides The Science and Spirit of the Ocean

Tides The Science and Spirit of the Ocean

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/02/2017

In Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean, writer, sailor, and surfer Jonathan White takes readers across the globe to discover the science and spirit of ocean tides. In the Arctic, White shimmies under the ice with an Inuit elder to hunt for mussels in the dark cavities left behind at low tide; in China, he races the Silver Dragon, a twenty-five-foot tidal bore that crashes eighty miles up the Qiantang River; in France, he interviews the monks that live in the tide-wrapped monastery of Mont Saint-Michel; in Chile and Scotland, he investigates the growth of tidal power generation; and in Panama and Venice, he delves into how the threat of sea level rise is changing human culture--the very old and very new. Tides combines lyrical prose, colorful adventure travel, and provocative scientific inquiry into the elemental, mysterious paradox that keeps our planet's waters in constant motion. Photographs, scientific figures, line drawings, and sixteen color photos dramatically illustrate this engaging, expert tour of the tides.

Bone by Bone

Bone by Bone

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/07/2015

In this magnificent novel, which is the conclusion to the celebrated Watson trilogy, E.J. Watson tells his own story, through his turbulent life, to his death at the hands of vigilantes. From his destitute childhood in South Carolina, and the terrible events which haunt him for the rest of his days, the narrative shifts to the wilds of the Florida Everglades. Here, Watson establishes himself as a successful sugar-cane farmer, trying in vain to escape his past, and the uncontrollable, vicious side of his nature which is ultimately his downfall. Intelligent, a devoted husband and a lover, a stern father and a man capable of cruelty and cold-blooded murder, Watson is a character staggeringly real in his complexity. Bone by Bone confronts not only the racism, brutality and entrepreneurial greed of the American South at the turn of the century but also the paradox at the heart of human nature: our capacity for fierce love, compassion and unspeakable violence.

In Paradise

In Paradise

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/11/2014

In Paradise tells the story of a group of men and women who come together for a weeklong meditation retreat at the site of a World War II concentration camp, and the grief, rage and upsetting revelations that surface during their time together. Even as it probes the suffering, conflicts, and longings of these diverse characters, In Paradise raises provocative and unanswerable metaphysical questions: what responsibility comes with bearing witness to such cruelty and tragedy; and what insights into the nature of good and evil may be lost in the next decade or two, as the last survivors of - and witnesses to - the death camps pass away. Having participated in three Zen retreats at Auschwitz beginning in the 1990s, Matthiessen had long wished to comment on the ongoing fallout of last century's global catastrophe, but 'as a non-Jewish American journalist, I felt unqualified to do so, I felt I had no right. But approaching it as fiction - as a novelist, an artist - I eventually decided that I did. Only fiction would allow me to probe from a variety of viewpoints the great strangeness of what I had felt.'

In Paradise

In Paradise

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: eBook Release Date: 23/04/2014

In the late autumn of 1996, more than a hundred people gather at the site of a former death camp. Throughout that week, they offer prayer and witness at the crematoria and meditate in all weathers on the selection platform. They eat and sleep in the sparse quarters of the Nazi officers who, half a century before, sent more than a million Jews to their deaths in this single camp. These people are joined by Clements Olin, an American academic of Polish descent, there to complete his research on the strange suicide of a survivor, even as he questions what a non-Jew with no connection to its history can contribute to the understanding of so monstrous a catastrophe. As the days pass, tensions both political and personal surface among the participants, stripping away any easy pretense to resolution or healing. Caught in the grip of emotions and impulses of bewildering intensity, Olin is forced to abandon his observer's role and to bear witness, not only to his family's ambiguous history but to his own as well. In Paradise is a profoundly searching new novel by a writer of incomparable range, power, and achievement who writes 'like an avenging angel' (Time).

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: eBook Release Date: 08/04/2014

An unforgettable spiritual journey through the Himalayas... In 1973, Peter Matthiessen and field biologist George Schaller traveled high into the remote mountains of Nepal to study the Himalayan blue sheep and possibly glimpse the rare and beautiful snow leopard. Matthiessen, a student of Zen Buddhism, was also on a spiritual quest to find the Lama of Shey at the ancient shrine on Crystal Mountain. As the climb proceeded, Matthiessen charted his inner path as well as his outer one, with a deepening Buddhist understanding of reality, suffering, impermanence, and beauty.

Sal Si Puedes (Escape If You Can) Cesar Chavez and the New American Revolution

Sal Si Puedes (Escape If You Can) Cesar Chavez and the New American Revolution

Author: Peter Matthiessen, Marc Grossman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 18/03/2014

In the summer of 1968 Peter Matthiessen met Cesar Chavez for the first time. They were the same age: forty-one. Matthiessen lived in New York City, while Chavez lived in the Central Valley farm town of Delano, where the grape strike was unfolding. This book is Matthiessen's panoramic yet finely detailed account of the three years he spent working and traveling with Chavez, including to Sal Si Puedes, the San Jose barrio where Chavez began his organizing. Matthiessen provides a candid look into the many sides of this enigmatic and charismatic leader who lived by the laws of nonviolence. Sal Si Puedes is less reportage than living history. In its pages a whole era comes alive: the Chicano, Black Power, and antiwar movements; the browning of the labor movement; Chavez's fasts; the nationwide boycott of California grapes. When Chavez died in 1993, tens of thousands gathered at his funeral. It was a clear sign of how beloved he was and how important his life had been. A new foreword by Marc Grossman considers the significance of Chavez's legacy for our time. As well as serving as an indispensable guide to the 1960s, this book rejuvenates the extraordinary vitality of Chavez's life and spirit, giving his message a renewed and much-needed urgency.

Lost Man's River

Lost Man's River

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2013

When Watson's son Lucius returns to the treacherous wilderness of the Everglades searching for the truth about his father's death, the coast's lawless inhabitants, alligator poachers and moonshiners hold close their secrets, and a deep uneasiness drifts through the region like a low swamp mist.

Endocrine Disrupters Hazard Testing and Assessment Methods

Endocrine Disrupters Hazard Testing and Assessment Methods

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/04/2013

This book describes methodology and applications for endocrine disrupter toxicity testing, an issue of considerable urgency, because of international regulatory authorities currently considering such testing schemes. The coverage examines major animal groups for sensitivity to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), identifying endpoints and procedures for testing guidelines. Three EDC screening methods (two using fish and one using amphibians) are examined in detail for their efficacy and applicability. Edited by, and with contributions from, a leading participant in regulatory efforts, the book outlines methods that combine sensitivity, efficiency, statistical power, acceptable cost, and minimum ethical concern.

Under The Mountain Wall

Under The Mountain Wall

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/12/2012

In the Baliem Valley in central New Guinea lived a Stone Age tribe which survived into the twentieth century - the Kurelu. Matthiessen joined the Harvard-Peabody Expedition of 1961which set out to study the tribe as unobtrusively as possible, living among the Kurelu for two seasons. The result was this classic account, not of the expedition but of a lost culture; the Kurelu's timeless rhythms of work and play, of warriorship, feasting and funerals. In Under the Mountain Wall Matthiessen illuminates the lives of the Kurelu's with respect and sympathy, capturing a culture untouched by civilisation and vanishing along with the wilderness lying beneath the dramatic peaks of the Snow Mountains.

Shadow Country

Shadow Country

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/03/2011

Inspired by a near-mythic event of the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the twentieth century, Shadow Country reimagines the legend of the inspired Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself to his own violent end at the hands of his neighbours. His son Lucius investigates the killing which has come to obsess him. In this bold new rendering of the Watson trilogy Matthiessen has deepened the insights and motivations of his characters, consolidating his fictional masterwork into a poetic, compelling novel of a monumental scope and ambition, with breathtaking accomplishment.

Tree Where Man Was Born

Tree Where Man Was Born

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: eBook Release Date: 03/02/2010

In this classic volume, Peter Matthiessen exquisitely combines nature and travel writing to bring East Africa to vivid life. He skillfully and magically portrays the sights, scenes, and people he observed firsthand in several trips over the course of a dozen years: the daily lives of herdsmen and hunter-gatherers; the drama of the predator kills; the hundreds of exotic animals; the breathtaking landscapes; the area's turbulent natural, political, and social histories; the adventures of the field biologists who pursue and investigate the habits of wild creatures; the anthropologists seeking man's origins throughout the Rift Valley; and the lonely African, poised between the traditional ways and the conflicting demands of Western culture. A finalist for the National Book Award when it was released in 1972, this vivid portrait of East Africa remains as fresh and revelatory now as on the day it was first published.

At Play in the Fields of the Lord

At Play in the Fields of the Lord

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: eBook Release Date: 22/10/2009

In a malarial outpost in the South American rain forest, two misplaced gringos converge and clash. Martin Quarrier has come to convert the fearful and elusive Niaruna Indians to his brand of Christianity. Lewis Moon, a stateless mercenary who is himself part Indian, has come to kill them on behalf of the local commandante. Out of their struggle, Peter Matthiessen has created an electrifying moral thriller, a novel of Conradian richness that explores both the varieties of spiritual experience and the politics of cultural genocide.

The Cloud Forest

The Cloud Forest

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2009

Peter Mattiessen has long been known for his travels to some of the remotest lands on earth, most notably recorded in The Snow Leopard. The Cloud Forest brings to vivid life a South American journey that took him from the Sargasso Sea to the jungles of Amazonia, from the Inca city of Machu Picchu high in the Andes to the bleak rocks of Tierra del Fuego and the winds and vast skies of Patagonia. The result is an incisive and marvellously well-observed journal by a born writer and naturalist, a voyage of exploration among the people, places and fading wildlife of this most exotic and mysterious of continents.

Cloud Forest

Cloud Forest

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: eBook Release Date: 24/06/2009

For twenty thousand miles, Peter Matthiessen crisscrossed the South American wilderness, traveling from the Amazonian rain forests to Machu Picchu high in the Andes, down to the edge of the world at Tierra del Fuego and back. In the course of his journey, he followed the trails of old explorers; encountered river bandits, wild tribesmen, and the evidence of ancient ruins; and discovered a fossilized snout of a giant unknown crocodilian hidden in the depths of the jungle on the wild mountain rivers of Peru. Filled with observations and descriptions of the people and the fading wildlife of this vast world to the south, The Cloud Forest is Matthiessen's incisive, wry report of his expedition into some of the last and most exotic wild terrains in the world.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: eBook Release Date: 05/05/2009

On a hot June morning in 1975, a fatal shoot-out took place between FBI agents and American Indians on a remote property near Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in which an Indian and two federal agents were killed. Eventually, four members of the American Indian Movement were indicted on murder charges in the deaths of the two agents. Leonard Peltier, the only one to be convicted, is now serving consecutive life sentences in a federal penitentiary. Behind this violent chain of events lie issues of great complexity and profound historical resonance. In this controversial book, Peter Matthiessen brilliantly explicates the larger issues behind the shoot-out, including the Lakota Indians' historical struggle with the US government, from Red Cloud's war and Little Big Horn in the nineteenth century to the shameful discrimination that led to the new Indian wars of 1970s. This powerful book was censored and kept off the shelves for eight years because of one of the most protracted and bitterly fought legal cases in publishing history.

Shadow Country

Shadow Country

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: eBook Release Date: 04/02/2009

Shadow Country is Peter Matthiessen's reimagining of the legend of E. J. Watson, the Everglades sugarcane planter and notorious outlaw of the wild Florida frontier. Vividly capturing the American hinterlands at the turn of the twentieth century, it traces the story of Watson through eyewitness perspectives as he drives himself relentlessly toward his own violent end at the hands of neighbors who mostly admired him. Shadow Country traverses strange landscapes and frontier hinterlands inhabited by Americans of every provenance and color, including the black and Indian inheritors of the archaic racism that, as Watson's wife observed, "e;still casts its shadow over the nation."e; Originally written as three separate, acclaimed novels, this is Matthiessen's bold new distillation of his monumental work. Tightened and brilliantly rewritten throughout, he has collapsed the time frame while deepening the insights and motivations of his characters, achieving his original vision of the Watson trilogy.

An African Trilogy

An African Trilogy

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/04/2000

During the 1970s and 1980s, Peter Matthiessen took part in a number of expeditions to Africa, witnessing first-hand the continent's many and diverse peoples and wildlife. The fruits of these journeys are three of the most impressive essays on the natural world of the late twentieth century. The Tree where Man Was Born documents wild landscapes, peoples and animals, observed in a series of journeys in East Africa, from the Sudan, south through Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, exploring the Serengeti, the Maasai Mara, the Ngorongoro crater and the archaeological sites of the Rift Valley. African Silences recounts two expeditions made to West and Central Africa, including Zaire (as it then was), Gabon and the Central African Republic. Sand Rivers describes the Selous game reserve in Southern Tanzania, one of the largest, but least-known refuges for animals left on earth, and provides an unforgettable portrait of this area and the fierce, lonely men who created it. These three classic works represent Matthiessen the naturalist at his finest; written an all-encompassing curiosity and knowledge that brings alive the people, places and wildlife he encounters, and updated with a new introduction by the author.

Tigers in the Snow

Tigers in the Snow

Author: Peter Matthiessen, Maurice Hornocker Format: Hardback Release Date: 16/03/2000

There are no more than a few thousand tigers surviving in pockets of Asia. The largest of these, the Siberian tiger, is today almost entirely confined to the little-populated Russian Far East. Now these are under threat due to the intensified poaching and the destruction of habitat that has followed upon the collapse of the USSR. Peter Matthiessen brings to the Siberian tiger a deep knowledge of and feeling for the natural world. He tells the story of the species' origin and evolution, evoking as well its crucial role in the culture and mythology of the peoples who came into contact with it.

Bone by Bone

Bone by Bone

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/05/1999

In this magnificent novel, which is the conclusion to the celebrated Watson trilogy, E.J. Watson tells his own story, through his turbulent life, to his death at the hands of vigilantes. From his destitute childhood in South Carolina, and the terrible events which haunt him for the rest of his days, the narrative shifts to the wilds of the Florida Everglades. Here, Watson establishes himself as a successful sugar-cane farmer, trying in vain to escape his past, and the uncontrollable, vicious side of his nature which is ultimately his downfall. Intelligent, a devoted husband and a lover, a stern father and a man capable of cruelty and cold-blooded murder, Watson is a character staggeringly real in his complexity. Bone by Bone confronts not only the racism, brutality and entrepeneurial greed of the American South at the turn of the century but also the paradox at the heart of human nature: our capacity for fierce love, compassion and unspeakable violence.

Tree Where Man Was Born,The

Tree Where Man Was Born,The

Author: Peter Matthiessen, Eliot Porter Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/07/1998

This volume gives an illustrated account of Peter Matthiessen's travels in East Africa from the Sudan, through Uganda and Kenya to Tanzania. He describes the wildlife and the game reserves of the Serengeti, Maasai Mara and the Ngorongoro Crater, and the archaeological sites at Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli in the Rift Valley. During these travels he meets Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton, George Adamson and George Schaller, who all dedicated their lives to studying and protecting animals. The photographs by Eliot Porter show details of human and natural history, the daily lives of wild herdmen and stone-age aborigines, and a records of the animals and landscapes of East Africa. Peter Matthiessen is the author of At Play in the Fields of the Lord , Blue Meridian , Far Tortuga , The Snow Leopard , Killing Mister Watson , African Silences and In the Spirit of Crazy Horse .

Nine-Headed Dragon River

Nine-Headed Dragon River

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/06/1998

The Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/01/1998

One September, the writer and explorer Peter Matthiessen set out with field biologist George Schaller to journey 250 miles through the Himalayas to the Crystal Mountain on the Tibetan plateau. They wanted to study the wild blue sheep, the bharal, but also hoped to see the snow leopard, a creature so rarely spotted as to be nearly mythical. The Snow Leopard is not only an exquisite book of natural history but an extraordinary account of an inner journey ; a 'true pilgrimage, a journey of the heart.'

Blue Meridian

Blue Meridian

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/06/1995

In 1969 Peter Matthiessen set out with the expedition led by Peter Gimbel, whose aim was to find and film underwater for the first time the most dangerous of all sea creatures - the great white shark. Acting as the expedition's chronicler and spare hand (both on the surface and below), Matthiessen accompanied the crew from the Carribean to the whaling grounds off the Durban coast, to various islands in the Indian Ocean, to Ceylon, and finally to success off the bleak south coast of Australia. Blue Meridian records the awesome experience of swimming in open water among hundreds of sharks, the beauties of strange seas and landscapes and the camaraderie, humour and tension of people who live in close proximity and risk their lives day by day.

Saving Wildlife A Century of Conservation

Saving Wildlife A Century of Conservation

Author: Peter Matthiessen Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/04/1995

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