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Peter Matthiessen (1) (1927–2014)

Author of The Snow Leopard

For other authors named Peter Matthiessen, see the disambiguation page.

49+ Works 12,394 Members 216 Reviews 5 Favorited

About the Author

Peter Matthiessen was born in Manhattan, New York on May 22, 1927. He served in the Navy at Pearl Harbor. He graduated with a degree in English from Yale University in 1950. It was around this time that he was recruited by the CIA and traveled to Paris, where he became acquainted with several young show more expatriate American writers. In the postwar years the CIA covertly financed magazines and cultural programs to counter the spread of Communism. While in Paris, he helped found The Paris Review in 1953. After returning to the United States, he worked as a commercial fisherman and the captain of a charter fishing boat. His first novel, Race Rock, was published in 1954. His other fiction works include Partisans, Raditzer, Far Tortuga, and In Paradise. His novel, Shadow Country, won a National Book Award. His novel, At Play in the Fields of the Lord, was made into a movie. He started writing nonfiction after divorcing his first wife. An assignment for Sports Illustrated to report on American endangered species led to the book Wildlife in America, which was published in 1959. His travels took him to Asia, Australia, South America, Africa, New Guinea, the Florida swamps, and beneath the ocean. These travels led to articles in The New Yorker as well as numerous nonfiction books including The Cloud Forest: A Chronicle of the South American Wilderness, Under the Mountain Wall: A Chronicle of Two Seasons of Stone Age New Guinea, Blue Meridian: The Search for the Great White Shark, The Tree Where Man Was Born, and Men's Lives. The Snow Leopard won the 1979 National Book Award for nonfiction. He died from leukemia on April 5, 2014 at the age of 86. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
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Works by Peter Matthiessen

The Snow Leopard (1978) 2,678 copies
Shadow Country (2008) 1,239 copies
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1983) 1,121 copies
Killing Mister Watson (1990) 752 copies
Far Tortuga (1975) 534 copies
In Paradise (2014) 442 copies
The Tree Where Man Was Born (1972) 415 copies
Lost Man's River (1997) 290 copies
Wildlife in America (1959) 253 copies
African Silences (1991) 250 copies
Indian Country (1984) 231 copies
Bone by Bone (1999) 228 copies
Tigers in the Snow (2000) 169 copies
Sand Rivers (1981) 160 copies
Men's Lives (1986) 149 copies
East of Lo Monthang (1995) 68 copies
Raditzer (1961) 55 copies
Race Rock (1954) 45 copies
Partisans (1987) 39 copies
The Shorebirds of North America (1967) — Author — 38 copies
Shadows of Africa (1992) 26 copies
Zen and the Writing Life (1999) 12 copies
No Boundaries (1993) 7 copies
Seal pool (1972) 7 copies
The Passionate Seekers (1955) 2 copies
The Great Auk Escape (1974) 1 copy

Associated Works

Silent Spring (1962) — Introduction, some editions — 6,441 copies
North American Indians (1995) — Introduction, some editions — 450 copies
The Portable Sixties Reader (2002) — Contributor — 323 copies
Bad Trips (1991) — Contributor — 232 copies
Epic: Stories of Survival from the World's Highest Peaks (1997) — Contributor — 170 copies
The Big New Yorker Book of Cats (2013) — Contributor — 130 copies
Heart of the Land: Essays on Last Great Places (1994) — Contributor — 105 copies
Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean (2017) — Introduction, some editions — 100 copies
Totch: A Life in the Everglades (1993) — Foreword — 63 copies
Antaeus No. 63, Autumn 1989 (1989) — Contributor — 15 copies


20th century (85) adventure (111) Africa (214) American (79) American literature (113) animals (106) anthropology (88) biology (127) birds (105) Buddhism (208) conservation (133) ecology (450) environment (582) environmentalism (198) fiction (870) first edition (71) Florida (154) Himalayas (113) historical fiction (131) history (335) literature (122) memoir (126) Native American (107) Native Americans (84) natural history (344) nature (753) Nepal (139) non-fiction (1,114) novel (174) pesticides (149) pollution (113) read (84) religion (71) science (449) Tibet (75) to-read (926) travel (613) unread (97) wildlife (75) zen (83)

Common Knowledge



The story is told as a drawn-out series of accounts of the famous shoot-out at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975, but also concerning many other related events and combined with extracts of court transcripts and of the author’s interviews. Ultimately it’s never clear why FBI agents were at the shoot-out site initially, who shot whom when, and exactly what Leonard Peltier had to do with it. Most or all prosecutorial, FBI, and presented “witness” accounts seem unreliable, and there is now knowledge of either fabricated ballistic evidence or information that was withheld about ballistic evidence. The author was clearly personally involved in this, his sympathies are immediately and everywhere clear. He brings the story to us in a protracted repetitive fashion, but the main disappointment for the reader is that almost everything is left in the air, and although it seems clear that Peltier was picked by the FBI to take the fall and then received a sham trial, it is also clear that two FBI agents were murdered (it's not self-defense when you shoot a wounded man in the head), and that Peltier is a serial felon from adolescence. An account related to the author from an unnamed and disguised Indian "X" confessing to the murders given near the end of the book didn't seem to be a more reliable account than any other.
I have had some interest in lying in the past, and I noticed that many of the stories told on both sides are of a type commonly used when lying (see the current liar-in-chief or, especially, Mr. Putin). If I ask you if you did something, a common truthful response might be "no", but a common untruthful response is, "Why would a person like me do something like that?".
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markm2315 | 5 other reviews | Jul 1, 2023 |
Slow and calm while being poignant and intense. I sat pondering pages that were blank but for a few words or a splash of ink, or a monologue without a specified speaker. "Just enough" in many respects - almost minimalist, but I'm sure I misuse the word. Mainly less to my taste because it was so long and slow, but I loved the style and characterization dearly.
alex.rothb | 8 other reviews | May 10, 2023 |
Edgar (E.J.) Watson was a historic person born in 1855 who lived through the horrible Florida hurricane of 1910. He was a hero to some and a villain to others. Matthiessen takes snippets of history and an assortment of folks who supposedly knew the story of Watson to give readers all the possibilities. The eyewitnesses disagree about the circumstances surrounding Watson's life and death in southwestern Florida. However, we learn much more about the thinking of the time and the Florida land before it is developed. The area and people are portrayed as wild and primitive. So many disregard nature by attempting to conquer and control it. The author includes descriptions of inaccurate weather forecasting, surviving and succumbing to hurricanes, and their aftereffects. In general, many humans were misguided in thinking they could destroy humans, animals, vegetation, and whatever was in the way without consequence.

Some of the places depicted include:
Ten Thousand Islands
Possum Key
Monroe County
Lee County

Some of the distinguishing characteristics, traits, features, or hallmarks of "old Florida" include:
Counties and governorship
Crackers, Baptist Crackers
Draining Okeechobee
The Calusa: "The Shell Indians" shell mounds
Calusa mounds
Natives, Blacks, Biracial people
Chain gangs
Wild bird eggs
Seminole Wars
Harvesting skins
Plume wars
See my reviews at https://quipsandquotes.net/
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LindaLoretz | 8 other reviews | Mar 17, 2023 |
Matthiessen writes proses as poetry. A magical combination of travel, nature and Buddhist thinking that brings the reader along a heartfelt journey
kropferama | 51 other reviews | Jan 1, 2023 |



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