By Tom Vitale.
Author Peter Matthiessen has died in New York at the age of 86 from acute myeloid leukemia. Matthiessen, a novelist and naturalist, wrote 33 books; among his best-known works are The Snow Leopard and the novels Far Tortuga and At Play in the Fields of the Lord, which was made into a Hollywood film.
He is the only writer to ever win the National Book Award in the categories of Fiction (for Shadow Country) and General Nonfiction (for The Snow Leopard, which also won for Contemporary Thought). He was also a political activist, a Buddhist teacher, co-founder of The Paris Review and, briefly, a spy.
In his first nonfiction book, Matthiessen staked out the territory he would revisit the rest of his life — the destruction of nature and natural peoples at the hands of mankind. Wilderness in America, published in 1959, is a history of the extinction of animal and bird species in North America.
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