Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 40(1/2): March/June 2008


August 28, 2008, marks the centennial of Roger Tory Peterson's birth, and books related to the most prominent naturalist of the twentieth century have been sprouting up everywhere. I was disappointed that Douglas Carlson shied away from examining Peterson's personal life to provide insights into the forces and relationships that shaped, and were shaped by, this man so consumed with birds. Instead, Carlson focuses almost entirely on Peterson's work, writing, "Because his death is so recent, there are many who have a personal investment in his story; beyond a request for an interview, no attempts have been made to invade the privacy of any of them. Through Peterson's painting and writing, and in the work of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, the truths of his life are revealed."

Douglas Carlson's close examination of his huge body of written, photographic, and artistic work makes the book a worthwhile entry in the library of books about this interesting man who sparked a widespread and enduring interest in birds and nature study.-