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Schultheis, Rob 1943–

Schultheis, Rob 1943–

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "Shul-tise"; born December 17, 1943, in New York, NY; son of Frederick Dwight (a diplomat) and Eugenia (a writer; maiden name, Barnett) Schultheis; children: Alexandra Weld. Education: University of Colorado, B.A., 1970, M.A., 1971, graduate study, 1971–73; graduate study at School of Tibetan Studies, Dharamsala, India.

ADDRESSES: Home—1106 Seaton Ln., Falls Church, VA 22046. Agent—c/o Gotham Publicity, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

CAREER: Anthropologist and writer.

WRITINGS:

The Hidden West: Journeys in the American Outback, introduction by Stephen J. Bodio, Random House (New York, NY), 1982.

Bone Games: One Man's Search for the Ultimate Athletic High, Random House (New York, NY), 1984.

Night Letters: Inside Wartime Afghanistan, Orion Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Fool's Gold: Lives, Loves, and Misadventures in the Four Corners Country (essays), Lyons Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Waging Peace: A Special Operations Team's Battle to Rebuild Iraq, Gotham Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor of articles to newspapers, including Washington Post and New York Times, and to magazines, including National Geographic Traveler, Outside, Playboy (Germany), Mother Jones, Oui, Backpacker, and Reader's Digest (Canada). Former columnist, "Moron of the Mountains," Inside Outside Southwest.

SIDELIGHTS: Rob Schultheis's book The Hidden West: Journeys in the American Outback records twenty years of adventures in the desolate areas of the American West. The author explored the Great Basin in Utah, followed the San Juan River in southwestern Colorado, and camped near Moon Lake in the California Sierras. His fascination with remote and uninhabitable regions has taken him far off the beaten track of most Western travelers, into what he calls "a land of lost rivers, dead seas, trackless deserts."

Schultheis "is a very fine writer, deftly weaving geology, history, and philosophy into his vivid descriptions of this secret land," observed James T. Yenckel in his Washington Post review of The Hidden West. "The landscapes may be desolate," he continued, "but his imagery is very much alive. His prose is lean, strong, even athletic. Like a hiker setting a fast pace to cover a lot of territory, the book moves swiftly across the West's great distances…. Schultheis provides an intriguing introduction to the region not to be found in the standard guides."

Schultheis writes about a distinct type of invasion in Fool's Gold: Lives, Loves, and Misadventures in the Four Corners Country, a collection of essays that comment on the changes his adopted Western town of Telluride, CO, has seen since his arrival three decades earlier. In addition to writing about Telluride and its transformation from a small mining town to a developed ski resort area, Schultheis talks about local characters and legends, the areas' natural environment, and some of his personal experiences. Reviewers praised Schultheis's ability to evoke the essence of his surroundings. He sometimes employs a "biting, cut-to-the-bone invective" and displays "a talent for turning a phrase that can force a belly laugh," observed Colorado Central Magazine contributor Clint Driscoll, who added: "Schultheis is a master nature writer. He can bring to mind the awesome power of mountain weather, the danger and, at the same time, absolute exhilaration of a solo walk over an isolated high pass." According to Bryce Christensen in Booklist, Schultheis evokes the "raw energy and stubborn unpredictability" of the people and land which occupy the region where the corners of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet, showing affection for his subject without becoming sentimental. "His writing is bare and earthy, giving a sense of a rough frontier town," commented Library Journal contributor Alison Hopkins, who felt the essays were uneven in quality. "This warmhearted book will not only amuse, but will leave readers pondering the concepts of 'progress and development,'" concluded a Publishers Weekly contributor.

A journalist and war correspondent, Schultheis has written about conditions in war-ravaged Afghanistan in his book Night Letters: Inside Wartime Afghanistan. After spending some time on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Schultheis wrote the book about his experiences in warring Afghanistan, documenting his travels with a friend, a photographer, who went in 1984 to cover the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Waging Peace: A Special Operations Team's Battle to Rebuild Iraq, chronicles the six months that Schultheis spent with the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion in Iraq. He writes in depth about the battalion's variety of non-combat missions involving public health, civil affairs, and improvement of the everyday lives of war-shocked Iraqis. Consisting almost entirely of Army reservists called to active duty, the team confronted obstacles ranging from adjusting to life as a full-time soldier, dealing with dangerous environments and Iraqi corruption, coping with a slow-moving Army bureaucracy, and making do with inadequate equipment and limited funding. With decidedly noncombat missions such as repairing and rebuilding schools, establishing medical clinics, providing toys to orphanages, building parks, and repairing sewer systems, the Civil Affairs soldiers also waged the war as it comes to them, dodging snipers, evading explosive devices, and avoiding mortar fire. Schultheis "celebrates their small victories against difficult odds in a surreal environment, delivering warm character studies and tense highway encounters," commented a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. Library Journal reviewer Zachary T. Irwin observed that the team's most notable achievement could be the improved relations between Americans and Iraqis brought about by their civil and humanitarian missions.

Schultheis told CA: "I am trying to combine moral passion with a sense of both the tragic and the ridiculous in my writings—appropriate, in light of Orwell's works."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 2001, Bryce Christensen, review of Fool's Gold: Lives, Loves, and Misadventures in the Four Corners Country, p. 1224.

Colorado Central Magazine, September, 2001, Clint Driscoll, review of Fool's Gold, p. 31.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1992, review of Night Letters: Inside Wartime Afghanistan, p. 171.

Library Journal, March 15, 1992, Mel D. Lane, review of Night Letters, p. 108; February 15, 1996, review of The Hidden West, p. 180; April 15, 2001, Alison Hopkins, review of Fool's Gold, p. 123; July 1, 2005, Zachary T. Irwin, review of Waging Peace: A Special Operations Team's Battle to Rebuild Iraq, p. 101.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 19, 1992, review of Night Letters, p. 6.

Publishers Weekly, March 2, 1992, review of Night Letters, p. 59; February 26, 2001, p. 74; May 9, 2005, review of Waging Peace, p. 59.

Washington Post, June 15, 1982, James T. Yenckel, review of The Hidden West.

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