Dale Peterson

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Dale Peterson (born November 20, 1944) is an American author who writes about scientific and natural history subjects.

Early life and education[edit]

Dale Alfred Peterson was born and raised in Corning, New York, a small town known for glass manufacturing in western New York State. He graduated from the University of Rochester in 1967 (BA in English and Psychology), then began graduate studies at Stanford University, first in the writing program under Wallace Stegner, later in the English Department. Stanford awarded him a Ph.D. in English and American Literature in 1977.[1]

Writing[edit]

The Vietnam War caused a break in Peterson's graduate studies. As a conscientious objector, Peterson was assigned to alternative service in 1971 at a large U.S. Veterans Administration hospital, working as an attendant on a lock-up ward for severely disturbed or mentally ill patients, many of them diagnosed as schizophrenic. He wrote a novel loosely based on his experiences, which was never published, and began work on a non-fiction treatment of the social and psychological experiences of the mentally ill. That study became an insider's history of mental illness based on autobiographical accounts of madness written during the nearly five and a half centuries between 1436 and 1976: published at last as A Mad People's History of Madness (1982).[2]

After receiving his doctorate, Peterson turned to carpentry, becoming a high-end finish carpenter engaged in remodeling houses in Silicon Valley, incidentally developing some friendships and connections with various people in the computer industry. A young Steve Jobs, for example, gave him one of the early Apple II computers.

Using the Apple II as a word processor, Peterson turned away from carpentry and settled down to writing, first with four books about computers (personal computers, computers in the arts and education, and programming). In partnership with John O'Neill, a London artist who had emigrated to California in order to design artistic games, he also helped create a computer game on the theme of interspecies communication, The Dolphins' Pearl, which was released in 1984.[3]

The Dolphins' Pearl marked a shift in Peterson's interests from intelligent machines and to intelligent animals. Making the decision to write about primates, Peterson began to research the topic at libraries but soon took a more direct approach in a series of arduous trips into tropical forests around the world: floating for two thousand miles down the Amazon River from southeastern Brazil, making visits to West, Central, East Africa, and Madagascar, and from there traveling to southern India, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Mentawai Islands. His proximate goal was to find the twelve most endangered primates (monkeys, apes, and prosimians) in the world. His ultimate goal was to write a book about those animals and their fate. Published in 1989, The Deluge and the Ark: A Journey into Primate Worlds was short-listed for the Sir Peter Kent Conservation Prize in Great Britain.

It also attracted the attention of Dr. Jane Goodall, the pioneering primatologist, who went on to join Peterson in writing a book about the ethical issues of using chimpanzees in captivity and the conservation problems threatening chimpanzees in the wild. Translated into Chinese, German, and Polish, Visions of Caliban: On Chimpanzees and People (1993) was distinguished as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a Library Journal Best of the Year.[4]

With Harvard University biological anthropologist Professor Richard Wrangham, Peterson co-authored the classic evolutionary study of human violence Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (1996), which has been translated into nine foreign languages and honored by The Village Voice as Best of the Year. In 1995 he published a light-hearted book about his travels into obscure parts of Africa looking for chimpanzees (Chimpanzee Travels), and in 1999 he released a second travel book, describing a 20,000-mile road trip taken with his two children in the United States (Storyville USA).

Peterson also turned to biography. Through collecting and editing hundreds of her personal letters, he produced a highly personal, two-volume "epistolary autobiography" of Jane Goodall: Africa in My Blood (2000) and Beyond Innocence (2001). He next wrote Goodall's only full (according to Nature magazine, the "definitive") biography, Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man (2006). The New York Times honored it as a Notable Book of the Year, while the Boston Globe called it Best of the Year.[5] [6] [7]

During this general period, moreover, he joined forces with photographer Karl Ammann to tour Central Africa and produce a shocking exposé of the trade in ape meat, Eating Apes (2003), which was pronounced Best of the Year by the Denver Post, Discover, The Economist, and the Globe and Mail.[8] [9] Subsequent African and Asian travels with photographer Ammann resulted in Elephant Reflections (2009) and Giraffe Reflections (2012). Additional recent works include The Moral Lives of Animals (2011) and a play for children entitled Jane of the Apes, which was co-authored with Randel Wright.

PEN New England[edit]

As a member of the executive board of PEN New England, Peterson has been active in promoting nature writing and writers through the creation of the Henry David Thoreau Prize for Literary Excellence in Nature Writing. Recent recipients of the prize include Gretel Ehrlich, E. O. Wilson, and Gary Snyder. Peterson also lectures part-time in the English Department at Tufts University.[10]

List of works[edit]

  • Giraffe Reflections (U of California Press) 2013.
  • The Moral Lives of Animals (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011) ISBN 978-1-59691-424-7.
  • Elephant Reflections (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).
  • Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006) ISBN 978-0-395-85405-1.
  • Eating Apes (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).
  • Beyond Innocence (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001). Edited.
  • Africa in My Blood (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000). Edited.
  • Storyville USA (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999).
  • Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996). Co-authored with Richard Wrangham. ISBN 978-0395877432
  • Chimpanzee Travels (Reading, MA: Addison Wesley, 1995).
  • Visions of Caliban (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993). Co-authored with Jane Goodall.
  • The Deluge and the Ark: A Journey into Primate Worlds (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989).
  • The Dolphins’ Pearl (Reston, VA: Admacadium / Reston Computer / Prentice-Hall, 1985). Co-designed with John O’Neill.
  • CoCo Logo (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1985).
  • Intelligent Schoolhouse: On Computers and Learning (Reston, VA: Reston, 1984). Edited.
  • Genesis II: Creation and Recreation with Computers (Reston, VA: Reston, 1983).
  • Big Things From Little Computers (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1982).
  • A Mad People’s History of Madness (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Stanford Alumni". Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Reaume, Geoffrey (2006). "Mad People's History". Radical History Review 94: 170. 
  3. ^ O'Neill, John; Dale Peterson (1985). The Dolphin's Pearl. Reston, VA: Admacadium / Reston Computer / Prentice-Hall. 
  4. ^ "Notable Books of the Year 1993". New York Times. December 5, 1993. 
  5. ^ McGrew, W.C. (October 26, 2006). "Books Reviewed: Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man". Nature 443. 
  6. ^ "100 Notable Books of the Year". New York Times. December 3, 2006. 
  7. ^ Kenney, Michael (December 3, 2006). "The Best Nonfiction of 2006". Boston Globe. 
  8. ^ "Best Books of the Year: Home Entertainment". The Economist. December 4, 2003. 
  9. ^ "Reviews Best of 2003". Discover. December 2003. 
  10. ^ http://ase.tufts.edu/english/faculty/peterson.asp. Retrieved 30 January 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)