David Quammen

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David Quammen
David Quammen.jpg
Born (1948-02-24) February 24, 1948 (age 73)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Alma materYale University (B.A., 1970)
University of Oxford (B.Litt., English, 1973) [1]
SpouseBetsy Gaines Quammen

David Quammen (born February 24, 1948) is an American science, nature, and travel writer and the author of fifteen books. For 15 years he wrote a column called "Natural Acts" for Outside magazine. His articles have also appeared in National Geographic, Harper's, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and other periodicals. In 2013, Quammen's book Spillover was shortlisted for the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Quammen graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1966.[3] He is a Yale graduate and Rhodes Scholar; during his graduate studies at Oxford, he studied literature, concentrating on the works of William Faulkner.[4]


Quammen was drawn to the state of Montana in the early 1970s for the trout fishing. He still lives in Montana, while traveling widely for National Geographic and to research his books. During Autumn 2014, he was much involved, because of books and articles he has published, in the public discussion of the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa and its spread beyond.

His book Spillover received two awards: the Science and Society Book Award, given by the National Association of Science Writers, and the Society of Biology (UK) Book Award in General Biology.

He received honorary doctorates from Montana State University and Colorado College. For his work Quammen was awarded with a Rhodes scholarship, a Guggenheim fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Award for nonfiction. From 2007 to 2009 he was the Wallace Stegner Professor of Western American Studies at Montana State University.



  • Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature; 1984 (Avon Books reprint 1996. ISBN 0-380-71738-7)
    • Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature (Revised and Expanded, with a New Introduction); W. W. Norton, 2009. ISBN 978-0-393-33360-2
  • The Flight of the Iguana: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature; Scribner, 1988. ISBN 0-684-83626-2
  • The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions; Scribner, 1996 (reprinted 1997). ISBN 0-684-82712-3[5]
  • Wild Thoughts From Wild Places; Scribner, 1999. ISBN 0-684-85208-X
  • The Boilerplate Rhino: Nature in the Eye of the Beholder; Scribner, 2001. ISBN 0-7432-0032-2
  • Monster of God : the man-eating predator in the jungles of history and the mind (2003), New York: W. W. Norton ISBN 0393051404[6][7]
  • The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution (Great Discoveries); W. W. Norton, 2006. ISBN 978-0-393-32995-7[8]
  • Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic; W. W. Norton, 2012. ISBN 978-0-393-06680-7[9][10]
  • Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus; W. W. Norton & Company, 2014. ISBN 0393351556 [11]
  • The Chimp and the River: How AIDS Emerged from an African Forest; W. W. Norton, 2015. ISBN 978-0-393-35084-5[12]
  • The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life; Simon & Schuster, 2018. ISBN 9781476776644[13]
  • "The Sobbing Pangolin: How a threatened animal may be linked to the [Covid-19] pandemic's beginnings", The New Yorker, 31 August 2020, pp. 26–31. "More field research is needed [...]. More sampling of wild animals. More scrutiny of genomes. More cognizance of the fact that animal infections can become human infections, because humans are animals. We live in a world of viruses, and we have scarcely begun to understand this one [ COVID-19 ]. (p. 31.)[14]


  • To Walk the Line, 1970.
  • Walking Out, 1980, made into a movie of the same name in 2017.
  • The Zolta Configuration, 1983.
  • The Soul of Viktor Tronko, 1987.
  • Blood Line: Stories of Fathers and Sons, 1988.

Awards and accolades[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How Rhodes Scholars Think: Interview with David Quammen", rhodesscholars.wordpress.com, October 17, 2007
  2. ^ "PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000) - PEN America". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  3. ^ Long, Karen (August 25, 2008). "Ten Minutes With . . . David Quammen, author of 'The Reluctant Mr. Darwin'". Plain Dealer. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
  4. ^ McGrath, Charles (Oct 19, 2012), "The Subject Is Science, the Style Is Faulkner", The New York Times, retrieved Feb 11, 2013
  5. ^ Kanigel, Robert (21 April 1996). "Review: The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Schulz, Kathryn (18 November 2003). "Kathryn Schulz reviews Monster of God by David Quammen". Grist. Retrieved 2015-08-04.
  7. ^ Moss, Stephen (6 March 2004). "Review: Monster of God by David Quammen". The Guardian.
  8. ^ Desmond, Adrian (27 Aug 2006). "Review: The Reluctant Mr. Darwin by David Quammen". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Roberts, Alice (10 Nov 2012). "Review: Spillover by David Quammen". The Guardian.
  10. ^ Shah, Sonia (19 Oct 2012). "Review: Spillover by David Quammen". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Quammen, David. "Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus". doi:10.1093/aje/kwu354.
  12. ^ Lynch, Stephen (2 Feb 2015). "How the AIDS epidemic really began". New York Post.
  13. ^ Archibald, John (2018) "The band of biologists who redrew the tree of life" Nature, 560: 6–27. doi:10.1038/d41586-018-05827-1
  14. ^ Quammen, David. "Did Pangolin Trafficking Cause the Coronavirus Pandemic?".
  15. ^ "Rhodes Scholars: Complete List, 1903-2013 - The Rhodes Scholarships". 6 November 2013. Archived from the original on 6 November 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  16. ^ a b c "Winners and Finalists Database - ASME". www.magazine.org. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  17. ^ "All Fellows - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  18. ^ American Academy of Arts and Letters - Award Winners Archived 2008-10-13 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Bp Natural World Book Prize Archived 2012-10-25 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Past Winners of The New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism". The New York Public Library. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Lannan Foundation". Lannan Foundation. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  22. ^ "JBA Medal Award List". research.amnh.org. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  23. ^ MSU News Service - New Stegner professor to hit the ground running Archived 2007-08-20 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ PEN American Center - 2001 Winners Archived 2012-06-26 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "Recipients • Academic Events Committee Colorado College". www.coloradocollege.edu. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  26. ^ "Society for the Study of Evolution". www.evolutionsociety.org. Archived from the original on 22 September 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  27. ^ Bill Ott (June 30, 2013). "Richard Ford and Timothy Egan Win Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction". Booklist. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  28. ^ Annalisa Pesek (July 3, 2013). "2013 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction". Library Journal. Archived from the original on March 18, 2014. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  29. ^ "ALA Unveils 2013 Finalists for Andrew Carnegie Medals". Publishers Weekly. April 22, 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2014.

External links[edit]