Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another Book Review: Birdwatcher, The Life of Roger Tory Peterson

I recently finished Birdwatcher, The Life of Roger Tory Peterson and enjoyed that a great deal This book is written by Elizabeth Rosenthal and is a terrific and thorough look into the life of Roger Tory Peterson. To me, Peterson was always an abstract and revered figure. Who hasn’t owned a Peterson field guide? It was the first one I owned, a gift from my mother for my 21st birthday, along with my first pair of binoculars. It took me a very long time to actually delve into birding, but I always had my Peterson Field Guide handy if I did need to ID something through the years!

Roger Tory Peterson was born in 1908 in Jamestown, NY. From an early age he was enthralled by birds and nature. In 1934 his Field Guide to the Birds revolutionized the world of birding and he is credited with bringing bird watching to the forefront of American interests. Thanks to his field guides, millions of people now had the tools to go out into the field and definitively identify what they were seeing. His influence and knowledge helped spur a national past time that can now boast over 48 million participants, with one in five Americans stating that they watch birds. This book is so much more than just a narrative about Roger the “birding legend”. What Rosenthal does is tear down the myth and legend and offer us a wonderful glimpse into the real person. His marriages, his relationships with his children, and with others in the field: it is all covered here.

The love of nature that had begun as a small child had morphed into a force to be reckoned with. When he died in 1996, at the age of 87, as the father of modern birding, he left behind a lifetime of achievement and had influenced and helped to educate millions of people. This is terrific book and I recommend it!

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