I grew up near the coasts of New York and Connecticut, and since an early age I was fascinated by the natural world, especially the ocean. I spent many days wandering the beaches on the edge of Long Island Sound and the Atlantic, collecting seashells and exploring tidepools. Throughout my career, which included jobs as an environmental consultant and an environmental policy analyst, one thing remained constant--I enjoyed writing and telling stories, many of which have a connection to the natural world. And that's why I started writing books--to share the stories that I find most intriguing.
My most recent book, WHEN AMERICA FIRST MET CHINA: AN EXOTIC TALE OF TEA, DRUGS, AND MONEY IN THE AGE OF SAIL (Liveright, 2012), was the winner for history, in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards; received a Gold Medal, History, in the Independent Publisher Book Awards; and was chosen as a Highly Recommended Book by the Boston Authors Club, and as a finalist for the New England Society Book Award. My last book, FUR, FORTUNE, AND EMPIRE: THE EPIC HISTORY OF THE FUR TRADE IN AMERICA (W. W. Norton, 2010), a national bestseller, was chosen by New West, The Seattle Times, and The Rocky Mountain Land Library as one of the top non-fiction books of 2010. It also won the 2011 James P. Hanlan Book Award, given by the New England Historical Association, and was awarded first place in the Outdoor Writers Association of America, Excellence in Craft Contest. The book before that, LEVIATHAN: THE HISTORY OF WHALING IN AMERICA (W. W. Norton, 2007), was selected as one of the best nonfiction books of 2007 by The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and The Providence Journal. LEVIATHAN was also chosen by Amazon.com's editors as one of the 10 best history books of 2007. LEVIATHAN garnered the the 23rd annual (2007) L. Byrne Waterman Award, given by the New Bedford Whaling Museum, for outstanding contributions to whaling research and history. LEVIATHAN also received the 2007 John Lyman Award for U. S. Maritime History, given by the North American Society for Oceanic History, was named an Honors Book in nonfiction for the 8th annual Massachusetts Book Awards (2008-2009), and was awarded a silver medal for history in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (2008).
My next book, coming out in April 2016, is BRILLIANT BEACONS: A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN LIGHTHOUSE.