Peter Matthiessen (born May 22, 1927, in New York City) is a two-time National Book Award-winning American novelist and nonfiction writer as well as an environmental activist. He frequently focuses on American Indian issues and history, as in his detailed study of the Leonard Peltier case, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. In November 2008, at age 81, he received his second National Book Award for Shadow Country, an 890-page revision of a trilogy of novels he released in the 1990s. His first National Book Award was won in 1980 for The Snow Leopard. His story Travelin’ Man was adapted into the film The Young One by Luis Buñuel.

Along with George Plimpton, Harold L. Humes, Thomas Guinzburg and Donald Hall, Matthiessen founded the literary magazine The Paris Review in 1953. At the time he was a young recruit for the CIA.

In 1965, Matthiessen wrote a novel about a group of American missionaries and a South American tribe. The book was later made into a major Hollywood film with the same title, At Play in the Fields of the Lord, in 1991. In 2008, Matthiessen’s fiction trilogy Killing Mr. Watson, Lost Man’s River and Bone by Bone, based on accounts of Florida planter Edgar J. Watson’s death shortly after the Southwest Florida Hurricane of 1910, was reformatted into a single volume entitled The Shadow Country. The book won the 2008 National Book Award.

In September 1973, Matthiessen went on an expedition to the Himalayas with field biologist George Schaller. Matthiessen and his late wife Deborah practiced Zen Buddhism. Matthiessen later became a Buddhist priest of the White Plum Asanga. He lives in Sagaponack, New York.


Race Rock (1954)
Partisans (1955)
Raditzer (1961)
At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1965)
Far Tortuga (1975)
On the River Styx and Other Stories (1989)
Killing Mister Watson (1990)
Lost Man’s River (1997)
Bone by Bone (1999)
Shadow Country (2008) (a new rendering of the Watson trilogy)