DiPerna, Paula 1949-
DiPERNA, Paula 1949-
ADDRESSES: Agent—Jane W. Wilson, JCA Literary Agency, Inc., 242 West 27th St., New York, NY 10001.
CAREER: Author, filmmaker, and public policy consultant. Teacher of English and reading at public schools in New York City, 1975; Cousteau Society, New York City, researcher, beginning in 1978, became vice president for international affairs; Joyce Foundation, Chicago, IL, president; Ohio State University School of Journalism, Columbus, instructor. Member of Working Group committee, Homeland Security Project.
MEMBER: Council on Foreign Relations, Golf Writers Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: Media award from Odyssey House, 1981, for reporting on agricultural child labor and pesticides; grants from Ford Foundation, 1981, Fund for Investigative Journalism, 1981 and 1983, and Youth Project, 1981; Eisenhower fellowship, 1998.
Compulsory Retirement: Pros and Cons, Public Affairs Committee (New York, NY), 1978.
The Complete Travel Guide to Cuba, St. Martin's, 1979.
(Editor and contributor) The Cousteau Almanac: An Inventory of Life on Our Water Planet, Doubleday, 1981.
Environmental Hazards to Children, Public Affairs Committee, 1981.
Functional Literacy: Knowledge for Living, Public Affairs Committee, 1982.
Understanding the Jury System, Public Affairs Committee, 1983.
Juries on Trial: Faces of American Justice, W. Norton, 1984.
Cluster Mystery: Epidemic and the Children of Woburn, Mass., Mosby (St. Louis, MO), 1985.
With These Hands, Pilgrim Press, 1986.
The Discoveries of Mrs. Christopher Columbus: His Wife's Version (novel), Permanent Press, 1994.
(Coauthor with Vicki Keller) Oakhurst: The Birth and Rebirth of America's First Golf Course, Walker and Co. (New York, NY), 2002.
Also author and director of the television documentary Kuwait: War and Environment. Contributor of more than sixty articles to magazines and newspapers, including, Ms., Working Woman, Village Voice, Travel and Leisure, Nation, Metropolitan Home, and Quest.
SIDELIGHTS: As a writer and producer for Jacques Cousteau, Paula DiPerna traveled throughout the world and developed a keen interest in environmental policy. Since then she has published numerous articles and books, including Environmental Hazards to Children and Cluster Mystery: Epidemic and the Children of Woburn, Mass. The latter, a study of the remarkable leukemia cluster in a small town, has become a classic in environmental public health. In addition, DiPerna has written books on other aspects of public policy, such as the jury system and literacy. In 1994 she drew on her knowledge of seafaring to write her first novel, The Discoveries of Mrs. Christopher Columbus: His Wife's Version, based on the premise that Columbus's wife Felipa (who actually died in 1484) lived to accompany him on his first voyage. Booklist reviewer Alice Joyce found it "a first-class romantic adventure" with a "fantastically realized conclusion."
In 2002 DiPerna teamed up with Vicki Keller to tell the story of America's first golf course, Oakhurst, which had been converted into a thoroughbred farm by Keller's parents. In Oakhurst: The Birth and Rebirth of America's First Golf Course, DiPerna and Keller describe the 1884 founding of the course in West Virginia by Russell Montague, who fell in love with the game on a visit to Scotland, together with four local enthusiasts. According to Business Week contributor David Purcell, "The authors spend too much time using scant genealogical information in an attempt to recreate the lives of the club's five members. However, they find their swing when describing the game as Oakhurst golfers would have known it." About 1900, the club members went their separate ways, and the course became a farm for raising thoroughbreds. Then Vicki Keller's father got the idea of reconverting it back to a golf course, but one with an unusual rule: players would have to play as the original founders did, with real wooden clubs and gutta-percha balls. The course also hosts the annual National Hickory Championship, in which players must also wear period clothing. DiPerna and Keller tell the whole story, from founding to refounding, in a way that Booklist reviewer Bill Ott found "inspirational without being sappy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1994, Alice Joyce, review of The Discoveries of Mrs. Christopher Columbus: His Wife's Version, p. 111; July, 2002, Bill Ott, review of Oakhurst: The Birth and Rebirth of America's First Golf Course, p. 1813.
Business Week, June 10, 2002, David Purcell, review of Oakhurst, p. 22E4.
Homeland Security Project, http://www.homelandsec.org/wgneed/bios/diperna.htm (November 17, 2003), "Paula DiPerna."*