Peterson, Dale 1944-
Peterson, Dale 1944-
Born November 20, 1944, in Corning, NY; son of Paul G. (an engineer) and Hazel (a registered nurse) Peterson; married Wyn Kelley, June 26, 1979; children: Britt Kelley. Education: University of Rochester, B.A., 1967; Stanford University, M.A., 1969, Ph.D., 1977.
Home—Stanford, CA. Office—261 Hamilton, Ste. 211, Palo Alto, CA 94301.
Writer, editor, columnist, and educator. Veterans Administration Hospital, Menlo Park, CA, psychiatric nursing attendant, 1969-71; Stanford University, Stanford, CA, instructor in writing, 1977-78; ARS Construction, Palo Alto, CA, carpenter, 1978-79; Rainbow Designs, Palo Alto, carpenter, 1979-80.
Big Things from Little Computers: A Layperson's Guide to Personal Computing, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1982.
Genesis II: Creation and Recreation with Computers, Reston Publishing (Reston, VA), 1983.
(With Don Inman and Ramon Zamora) Color Computer LOGO, Wiley (New York, NY), 1985.
The Deluge and the Ark: A Journey into Primate Worlds, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1989.
(With Jane Goodall) Visions of Caliban: On Chimpanzees and People, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1993.
Chimpanzee Travels: On and off the Road in Africa, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1995.
(With Richard Wrangham) Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, Houghton Mifflin (New York, NY), 1996.
Storyville USA, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1999.
Eating Apes, photographs by Karl Ammann, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2003.
Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.
Author of monthly column, "Greetings from Uncle Bert," Rainbow. Contributing editor, Rainbow.
A Mad People's History of Madness, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1982.
Intelligent Schoolhouse: Readings on Computers and Learning, Reston Publishing (Reston, VA), 1983.
Jane Goodall, Africa in My Blood: An Autobiography in Letters; The Early Years, 1934-1966 Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000.
Jane Goodall, Beyond Innocence: An Autobiography in Letters; The Later Years, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.
Science writer, editor, and columnist Dale Peterson started his career with a number of books on computers in the early 1980s. In works such as Big Things from Little Computers: A Layperson's Guide to Personal Computing, published in 1982, and Genesis II: Creation and Recreation with Computers, from 1983, Peterson offered expert advice on the computer technology of the era.
Many of Peterson's later books turned from purely technical subjects to topics in primate science, ethology, and primate behavior. In Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, Peterson and coauthor Richard Wrangham, an anthropologist, consider in depth the evidence for, and causes of, violence among higher primates, including chimpanzees, gorillas, great apes, and humans. "Gorilla males coolly murder infants fathered by other males to free up nursing mothers for breeding; orangutans will resort to rape if their mating overtures are rebuffed; rival gangs of chimpanzees may wage bloody border wars to protect their turf or enlarge their harems," commented Time reviewer Jeffrey Kluger. "And the evolutionary big brother of all these creatures, the human male, has a rap sheet that's too long to contemplate," Kluger continued. "No other animals kill members of their own species in this way," observed Christie Davis in the National Review. The evidence seems inescapable that violence is a genetically hardwired trait among advanced primates, as inescapable as the need to eat, sleep, and procreate.
However, research has demonstrated that the males of one species of great ape, the bonobo, do not engage in such behavior. Within the structure of bonobo society, there are limits on allowable behavior. Those who act outside of those structures are quickly reined in and punished. Bonobos appear to be more interested in peace than war, and their practice of resolving conflicts through sexual activity has become notorious. For Wrangham and Peterson, the answer to this seemingly contradictory behavior is simply that bonobo society is governed by females rather than males. Bonobo females enforce their laws, resolve the conflicts, and keep a peace that is unparalleled in the male-dominated world of their primate cousins. Confrontations between groups are often solved via the practice of hoka-hoka, or tribadism, the rubbing together of female bonobo genitalia. With this expedient method, peace is kept among and between groups of bonobos. The authors suggest that this method of peacekeeping has evolved because of the dominance of females among bonobos, and that it is evidence against arguments suggesting a genetic or evolutionary inevitability of male domination of families and societies.
Booklist reviewer Steve Schroeder called Demonic Males an "accessible, gripping, sometimes surprising account" of the nature, extent, and prevalence of "violent behavior among primates," along with its evolutionary origins and possible solutions to stop it. "This concise, well-written book, aimed at the intelligent layperson, tells a wonderful story," remarked Jim Weinrich in the Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide. In a Publishers Weekly review, a critic called the book a "startling, beautifully written, riveting, provocative inquiry" into the nature and origins of violence. Philip J. Regal, writing in the Quarterly Review of Biology, labeled the volume an "extremely well-written and entertaining book with lots of blood and guts." Peterson and Wrangham "explore the complex implications of the killing with acuteness and eloquence," commented Christopher Lehmann-Haupt in the New York Times.
In Eating Apes, Peterson looks at the practice of hunting gorillas, chimpanzees, and other primates for food. This trade in "bushmeat" thrives in Western and Central Africa, and Peterson acknowledges that there is nothing unusual about persons in this section of the world eating wild animal meat. However, he maintains that even if there is nothing morally or culturally wrong with eating ape meat, the practice remains a serious threat to biodiversity, public health, sustainable development, and the species of primates most often hunted and consumed. He notes how a number of human diseases, including HIV and Ebola, were likely transmitted through contact with ape blood. He describes how the logging industry, dominated by Western and Asian companies, is responsible for clearing out and opening up heretofore inaccessible areas of primate habitat, therefore making it easier for hunters and poaches to pursue their quarries. As the market for bushmeat increases, so does the need to clear habitat in pursuit of it, creating a spiraling, unsustainable cycle. Peterson also notes how the bushmeat trade is pushing numerous primate species ever closer to extinction. He presents interviews with hunters, butchers, and consumers of ape meat, detailing the methods of acquisition, slaughter, preparation, and transport of bushmeat. Throughout the book, Peterson strives to make clear the economic, political, and conservation aspects of the bushmeat trade. "Some of this material makes for grim, even macabre, reading," observed Beth Clewis Crim in the Library Journal. "Peterson is never shrill, and rarely does his tone become emotional; he does not overwhelm readers with evidence, yet his evidence is extensive," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Peterson's book is "part conservation plea and part sharp investigative reporting," remarked Craig Stanford in the Quarterly Review of Biology. "It is an important, eye-opening, and disturbing account of an environmental tragedy that is unfolding every day in the tropical forests in which apes are making their last stand," Stanford concluded.
Several of Peterson's works concern one of the more prominent figures in primate research and ethology: Jane Goodall. With Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man, Peterson presents an exhaustive work that "details the life of the woman who revolutionized primate studies," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Peterson recounts Goodall's early life and studies and how, at age twenty-six, she was sent by preeminent anthropologist and paleontologist Louis Leakey to study chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve in Tanganyika (now Tanzania). When Goodall embarked on her groundbreaking studies, she had no formal scientific training nor any precedents to follow in making, recording, or analyzing her observations. Through patience and tenacity, however, Goodall made discoveries that shook the foundations of primate science and even called into question the generally accepted definition of what it means to be human. Among her more important discoveries, Goodall found that chimpanzees eat meat, engage in warfare, have distinct personalities, and use tools, the latter of which prompted Leakey to believe it was necessary to redefine the meaning of "man," since tool use had long thought to be one of the prominent characteristics separating humans from animals. Peterson covers other aspects of Goodall's life, including her association with Leakey, her collaborations with the National Geographic Society, her two marriages, her status as a celebrity conservationist, and more. Even those who have read previous Goodall biographies should approach Peterson's work "prepared to be surprised at the depth" of the biographer's coverage of his subject, noted a reviewer in California Bookwatch. Peterson's book "captures the spirit of a remarkable woman in science," observed Gregg Sapp in the Library Journal. Through Peterson's efforts, "the reader sees Goodall as a disarming but determined advocate and activist who changed the lives of all who met her, whether human or beast," related a Kirkus Reviews critic. With his biography, "Peterson vividly and significantly enriches our understanding of Goodall as a scientist, spiritual thinker, and humanist," commented Booklist reviewer Donna Seaman.
Peterson is also the editor of two comprehensive books of Goodall's letters and correspondence. Africa in My Blood: An Autobiography in Letters; The Early Years, 1934-1966 contains letters from Goodall's childhood, her early years studying chimps at Gombe, and her maturation into a respected professional scientist. "Goodall's shining intelligence and exemplary passion glow from every page" of this epistolary biography, commented Christopher Camuto in Audubon. Beyond Innocence: An Autobiography in Letters; The Later Years includes correspondence from the period when Goodall reached the top of her field and the height of her fame. "These letters confirm Goodall's reputation as a writer whose capacity to empathize with the animals she studies truly separates her from the pack," observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
Peterson told CA: "I think of myself as a frustrated fiction writer. I wrote some short stories that I thought were pretty good, got tired of receiving rejection slips, then wrote a novel, thinking the publication of that would get stories published. I got tired of receiving rejection slips, so I put together A Mad People's History of Madness, thinking that the publication of a nonfiction work would help get the novel published. Meanwhile I supported myself by being a graduate student and then (having graduated) a carpenter.
"A Mad People's History of Madness is unique; it is the only history of psychiatry as told by mental patients. It covers five and a half centuries of psychiatry, from 1436 to 1976, is based upon selections from twenty-six mental patient autobiographies, but includes extensive background material on psychiatric history, which I wrote.
"I became interested in mental patient autobiographies during the two years that I worked as a psychiatric nursing assistant. In gathering material for the book, I went through indexes in most major libraries here and in England. I then read the material and selected the pieces I thought were most interesting and representative.
"The leap from a doctorate in literature to psychiatry, thence to carpentry and computers, may seem a little strange, but I believe there is a common thread (excepting carpentry, which was soup-in-the-pot activity). My psychiatry book was really the work of a literature person and humanist looking at psychiatry. Similarly with my book on computers. Generally I write about computers from a ‘humanist’ perspective—being less concerned about the nuts and bolts and more about the philosophical and human aspects of this technology.
"During the period of carpentry I had been writing children's stories (which I couldn't get published). Then one day I called up Prentice-Hall and told them they needed a book about computers written by someone (me) who knew nothing about the subject. That was my first computer book, Big Things from Little Computers. My second computer book, Genesis II, is about computers in the visual arts, music, writing, and games. It is a coffee-table book with lots of illustrations, including a color section containing computer-generated art.
"My plan is to earn enough money so that I can afford to take some time off and write fiction."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, January-February, 2007, Alison Jolly, "Primate Passions," review of Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man, p. 79.
Audubon, September, 2000, Christopher Camuto, review of Africa in My Blood: An Autobiography in Letters; The Early Years, 1934-1966, p. 108.
Biography, winter, 2007, Alison Jolly, review of Jane Goodall, p. 134.
Booklist, February 1, 1995, Lisa Orzepowski, review of Chimpanzee Travels: On and off the Road in Africa, p. 981; October 1, 1996, Steve Schroeder, review of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, p. 293; September 15, 1999, Vanessa Bush, review of Storyville, USA, p. 219; March 15, 2000, Sally Estes, review of Africa in My Blood, p. 1291; March 1, 2002, Brad Hooper, review of Beyond Innocence: An Autobiography in Letters: The Later Years, p. 1087; September 1, 2006, Donna Seaman, review of Jane Goodall, p. 6.
California Bookwatch, February, 2007, review of Jane Goodall.
Creative Computing, May, 1984, Stephen Gray, review of Big Things from Little Computers: A Layperson's Guide to Personal Computing, p. 229; July, 1984, review of Genesis II: Creation and Recreation with Computers, p. 207.
E 14.5, September-October, 2003, Tasha Eichenseher, "Busting the Bushmeat Trade," review of Eating Apes, p. 61.
Economist, May 17, 2003, "Killing off the Ark: The Bushmeat Trade," review of Eating Apes, p. 75.
Entertainment Weekly, November 17, 2006, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of Jane Goodall, p. 123.
Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, spring, 2000, Jim Weinrich, "We Are Not Alone," review of Demonic Males, p. 46.
Human Biology, February, 1999, Jonathan Marks, review of Demonic Males, p. 143.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2006, review of Jane Goodall, p. 828.
Lancet, June 28, 1997, John Bignall, review of Demonic Males, p. 1920.
Library Journal, October 1, 1999, Joseph L. Carlson, review of Storyville, USA, p. 124; May 15, 2003, Beth Clewis Crim, review of Eating Apes, p. 120; September 1, 2006, Wilda Williams, "The Making of a Scientist," review of Jane Goodall, p. 38; October 1, 2006, Gregg Sapp, review of Jane Goodall, p. 102.
National Review, November 11, 1996, Christie Davies, review of Demonic Males, p. 52.
Natural History, April, 2000, review of Africa in My Blood, p. 90; October, 2003, Laurence A. Marschall, review of Eating Apes, p. 65; November, 2006, Laurence A. Marschall, review of Jane Goodall, p. 62.
New York Times Book Review, October 10, 1996, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, "How Did Man Get So Bad? Looking to the Apes," review of Demonic Males, p. C26; October 27, 1996, Mark Ridley, "Going Ape," review of Demonic Males, p. 18; June 15, 2003, David Quammen, "Almost Cannibalism," review of Eating Apes, p. 16; November 26, 2006, Deborah Blum, "The Primatologist," review of Jane Goodall, p. 19; December 3, 2006, "100 Notable Books of the Year," review of Jane Goodall, p. 14, and "Best Sellers," review of Jane Goodall, p. 74.
PC Magazine, April 17, 1984, Luther Sperberg, review of Genesis II, p. 346.
People, December 4, 2006, Caroline Leavitt, review of Jane Goodall, p. 51.
Publishers Weekly, January 25, 1993, review of Visions of Caliban, p. 68; January 2, 1995, review of Chimpanzee Travels, p. 66; August 19, 1996, review of Demonic Males, p. 43; September 13, 1999, review of Storyville, USA, p. 71; December 13, 1999, "Houghton Mifflin," review of Africa in My Blood, p. 47; March 6, 2000, review of Africa in My Blood, p. 91; June 28, 2001, review of Beyond Innocence, p. 72; April 14, 2003, review of Eating Apes, p. 60; September 11, 2006, review of Jane Goodall, p. 42.
Quarterly Review of Biology, December, 1998, Philip J. Regal, review of Demonic Males, p. 473; March, 2004, Craig Stanford, review of Eating Apes, p. 113.
Science, January 14, 1994, Matt Cartmill, review of Visions of Caliban, p. 252.
Science News, November 11, 2006, review of Jane Goodall, p. 319.
Sciences, November-December, 1997, Meredith F. Small, review of Demonic Males, p. 40.
Smithsonian, May, 1995, Donald Dale Jackson, review of Chimpanzee Travels, p. 128.
Time, October 14, 1986, Jeffrey Kluger, review of Demonic Males, p. 80.
Whole Earth Review, winter, 1994, Tom Ness, review of Visions of Caliban, p. 15.
Wilson Quarterly, autumn, 1996, James Q. Wilson, review of Demonic Males, p. 95.