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Van Riper, A. Bowdoin 1963–

Van Riper, A. Bowdoin 1963–

PERSONAL: Born March 17, 1963, in Boston, MA; son of Anthony King (a teacher and freelance writer) and Janice Patricia (a social worker and homemaker; maiden name, Riley) Van Riper; married Julie R. Newell (a professor of history); children: Katharine P.; (stepson) Josef C. Mundt. Education: Brown University, A.B., 1985; University of Wisconsin—Madison, M.A., 1987, Ph.D., 1990. Politics: "FDR/LBJ Democrat." Religion: Unitarian-Universalist. Hobbies and other interests: Sailing, hiking, reading, movies, local history.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Social and International Studies, Southern Polytechnic State University, 1100 S. Marietta Parkway, Marietta, GA 30060.

CAREER: Writer and educator. Southern Polytechnic State University, Marietta, GA, adjunct professor of science, technology, and society. Volunteer for Friends of Red Top Mountain State Park and other organizations and institutions.

MEMBER: American Historical Association, History of Science Society, Film and History League, Martha's Vineyard Historical Society, Vineyard Haven Yacht Club.


Men among the Mammoths: Victorian Science and the Discovery of Human Prehistory, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1993.

Science and Popular Culture: A Reference Guide, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2002.

Imagining Flight: Aviation and Popular Culture, Texas A&M University Press (College Station, TX), 2004.

Rockets and Missiles: The Life Story of a Technology, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2004.

Contributor of more than fifty articles and reviews to periodicals and reference books.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Invasion USA: The History of an American Nightmare, completion expected c. 2006; research on depictions of science and technology in American popular culture, with a special emphasis on portrayals of scientists and engineers; research on subjects related to technological disasters, technology and war, and controlling nature.

SIDELIGHTS: A. Bowdoin Van Riper told CA: "I grew up spending summers in a house that had been built in the 1880s and remodeled by my grandparents when they bought it in 1940. Exploring its nooks and crannies on rainy days, I loved to discover traces of mysterious things from the past: fragments of anthracite in the basement storage closets (left over from the days of coal furnaces), buckets of sand in the attic (left over from preparation for World War II air raids that never happened), a square-cut nail wedged between two boards in the garage (left over from the days when the 'family car' had been a horse and buggy), and so on. Being an historian is, for me, an extension of those rainy-day treasure hunts: you find odd bits and pieces of the past and use them to try and understand how people lived and acted and thought 'back in the day.' It's like being a detective … except that nobody shoots at you in dark alleys.

"I try to write the kind of books that I like to read: books that show you something you've looked at all your life … then show you how it got to be that way, and how it's connected to other things you might never have thought it was connected to. Authors like John McPhee, Henry Petroski, Stephen Jay Gould, and John Stilgoe are my literary heroes. They can make anything (no matter how complex) seem understandable and anything (no matter how familiar) seem new."



Air Power History, fall, 2004, William A. Nardo, review of Imagining Flight: Aviation and Popular Culture, p. 54.

Antiquity, March, 1994, Cyprian Broodbank, review of Men among the Mammoths: Victorian Science and the Discovery of Human Prehistory, p. 149.

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