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The Life of Roger Tory Peterson

Elizabeth Rosenthal

[2015 Reprint] 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.
Birdwatcher is a comprehensive, illustrated biography of Roger Tory Peterson--a hero in the conservation world--including interviews with friends, family, and protégés.
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Globe Pequot Press / Lyons Press
Pages: 460Size: 6 x 9
978-1-59921-962-2 • Paperback • March 2010 • $21.95 • (£14.95)
978-1-59921-644-7 • eBook • March 2010 • $16.99 • (£10.95)
Elizabeth J. Rosenthal (www.petersonbird.com) has published birding articles in Bird Watcher’s Digest, New Jersey Audubon, and Snowy Egret. She is the author of the acclaimed His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John. A longtime New Jersey civil servant, she lives in Burlington, New Jersey.

Table of Contents

Chapter One. Boy Rebel to Boy Wonder

Chapter Two. The Boy Wonder and the Conservative Conservationist

Chapter Three. Postwar: Spreading His Wings


Chapter Four. International Range

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


Chapter Six. Roger and Barbara – Super Pair

Chapter Seven. A Natural Obsession

Chapter Eight. Hidden Roger


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


Chapter Thirteen. Worldwide Progeny

Chapter Fourteen. Offerings

Chapter Fifteen. Maturing with National Audubon

Chapter Sixteen. Shooting Birds

Chapter Seventeen. Painterly Birds


Chapter Eighteen. Territory Under Challenge

Chapter Nineteen. Still All Over the Range Map

The most detailed account of [Peterson's] three marriages, driven work habits, and strenuous activities as explorer, author, photographer, conservationist, and public figure.
The New York Review Of Books

This fine biography breaks much new ground and contains abundant original 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

A brilliant, definitive biography of the man who made birdwatching the leading outdoor recreation in America.
George H. Harrison, nature journalist, author, PBS producer

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, New Jersey Audubon Birding Ambassador

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

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 "Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding"

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"

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