Review: Birdwatcher – The Life of Roger Tory Peterson

Birdwatcher: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson, written by Elizabeth J. Rosenthal and published by The Lyons Press – Guilford, CT, takes us through the adventures of Roger Tory from a fledgling birdwatcher to “The King Penguin” of ornithology. Ms. Rosenthal captures the many facets that make up the man best known for the Field Guide that made birding into what it is today.

Birdwatcher provides a deeper insight into the soul of Roger Tory. With detailed conversations and ongoing commentary, we find out some of the “dark secrets” often ignored in lighter depictions of Peterson’s life story.

We also get a better idea of just how important birds were to “the great one”.

“We invent systems, socialism, fascism, communism, and capitalism. Each despises the other. Yet, as professor Aldo Leopold of the University of Wisconsin pointed out, they all espouse one creed: salvation by machinery. Is it any wonder that when these systems prove faulty and men detect the synthetic nature of the civilization of their devising they turn to nature? In a world that seems to have gone mad is it any wonder birds have such appeal? Birds are, perhaps, the most eloquent expression of reality.” -Roger Tory Peterson from Birdwatcher

Ms. Rosenthal neither worships nor bashes an idol, but carefully balances Peterson’s storied career and human foibles. In Birdwatcher, Peterson’s second wife, Barbara, is credited with “taking care of the mundane things that had to be done, allowing him to be a genius.”

Throughout this biography, we learn a great deal more about the people in Peterson’s life that helped not only launch his career, but provide an avenue for long-term success.

You can read more about this wonderful book at the author’s website: Birdwatcher: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson.

Overall rating: 9 of 10 feathers

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