Who is Alex Shoumatoff, the author and editor of the Dispatches?
About Alex Shoumatoff

     I was born in Mt. Kisco, New York, on November 4,  l946. After graduating from Harvard 
College in l968, I worked on the Washington Post, as a singer-songwriter, and as the resident 
naturalist at a wildlife sanctuary in Westchester County. My first book, Florida Ramble, was 
published in l974 (Harper and Row, Vintage paperback). In the fall of l976 I spent nine months 
in the Amazon researching a Sierra Club book, The Rivers Amazon (Sierra Club l978, hard 
and soft),  which has been compared to the classics of Roosevelt and Bates. My next book, 
Westchester : Portrait of a County (Coward, McCann, and Geoghegan, 1979, Vintage 
paperback), was excerpted in the New Yorker, for whom I became a staff writer in l979. There, 
under  Robert Bingham, the editor of John McPhee and Peter Mathiessen, and later under John 
Bennet, I wrote long fact pieces that were then developed as books : The Capital of Hope
(Coward McCann, and Geoghegan, 1980, Vintage paperback, about the building of Brasilia), 
Russian Blood (Coward, McCann, and Geoghegan, l982, Vintage paperback, a chronicle of my 
own family from the dawn of Russian history through the October Revolution and emigration to the 
United States ), The Mountain of Names (Simon and Schuster, l984, Touchstone, Vintage, and 
Kodansha paperbacks, a profile of the Mormons' Genealogical Society of Utah that became a 
history of the human family), In Southern Light (Simon and Schuster, l986, Touchstone and Vintage 
paperbacks, about a two-month journey in Zaire and a trip up the remote Amazonian tributary where 
the Amazon women are supposed to have lived). I was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in l985.

       In l986 I wrote a profile of Dian Fossey for the newly resurrected Vanity Fair that was made 
into the movie, Gorillas in the Mist and was collected in African Madness (Knopf l988, Vintage 
paperback, also containing pieces on Emperor Bokassa,  the natural history of Madagascar, and 
AIDS in Africa). I covered ousted dictators for Vanity Fair (Stroessner, Mengistu, Mobutu) and 
wrote a seminal piece on Tibet and the Dalai Lama.  My l989 piece about Chico Mendes, the 
murdered leader of the Amazon's rubber tappers, was optioned by Robert Redford and expanded 
into The World is Burning (Little Brown, l990, Avon paperback, published in ten languages). In 
l995 I became a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. 

      Recent pieces include Uma Thurman, the Panchen Lama, the Weld-Kerry Senate race,  the 
Great Camps of the Adirondacks, a profile of Bedford, New York, the race to find the winter 
grounds of the monarch butterfly.  My latest book, Legends of the American Desert, (Knopf, l997, 
a 500-page portrait of the American Southwest), was front-paged on the Times Book Review and
one of Time's ten best books of the year. I am currently writing for Harper Collins a history of my
wife's family from the dawn of Rwandan history through the l994 genocide.

      I divide my time between the Adirondacks and Montreal. The father of five sons ranging from 
three to twenty-three years old, I am married to the former Rosette Rwigamba.

 

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