Monday, November 17, 2008

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

Here’s my review of a new book of local interest sent to me by author, Elizabeth Rosenthal. Ms. Rosenthal, an avid birder, reads everything about them that she can find and goes on field trips whenever possible. She writes for the New Jersey Audubon Magazine and Snowy Egret. Her first book, “His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John,” was published in 2001.

The Birdwatcher: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson” by Elizabeth Rosenthal (The Lyons Press, 2008) is a very comprehensive biography of a man often considered the greatest naturalist of the 20th Century. Given that 2008 is the 100th anniversary of Peterson’s birth, this book is very timely.

Jamestown, NY native, Roger Tory Peterson (1908-1996) played a major role in the expansion of birding in the United States, as well as in Europe and other nations. Rosenthal’s book covers every aspect of the conservationist’s life from when he first became “hooked” on birds as eleven year old school boy during one of his youthful explorations in Jamestown, NY, to creating his first field guide, to his passion for photography, his artwork and his sense of adventure.

As a writer, I can appreciate the time and effort that Liz Rosenthal put into this book. She interviewed over 100 people from all over the world who shared their memories of Peterson with her. She also did extensive research, combing through books, periodicals, correspondence and other documents. The book has numerous photos of Peterson and his colleagues from the 1930’s through the 1990’s.

This book is a must read for anyone interested in natural science, ornithology and conservation. It has been estimated that there are over 70 million birdwatchers in the United States alone, so this book has wide appeal. With the holidays coming up, this would make a perfect gift for the birdwatcher on your list.

For more information about the book, visit the book’s website The book, which retails for $29.95 is available in bookstores and other retailers, including Barnes & Noble, Borders, The Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, and from online booksellers like

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