Peter Stark

Peter Stark

Peter Stark was born in Wisconsin to an adventurous and outdoorsy family and began traveling when young in canoes, on skis, and also by more conventional means. He received a bachelor’s degree in English and anthropology from Dartmouth College and a master’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin. After a brief stint in newspapers, and based in Missoula, Montana, he went on to work as a full-time freelance writer specializing in subjects on the outdoors and adventure, exploration history, wilderness and indigenous peoples, and the physiology of the human body under extreme stress.

His articles have appeared in Outside (where he is a long-time correspondent), Smithsonian, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Men’s Journal and many other publications. His books include Driving to Greenland (essays about the Arctic, 1994); Last Breath: Cautionary Tales from the Limits of Human Endurance (Ballantine Books, 2001); At the Mercy of the River: An Exploration of the Last African Wilderness (Ballantine, 2005); and The Last Empty Places: A Past and Present Journey Through the Blank Spots on the American Map (Ballantine, 2010).

 

His most recent book, Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America's Founding Father (Ecco/Harpercollins, 2018) presents a new, brash, and unexpected view of our first president two decades before he led America to independence. His previous book, Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire; a Story of Wealth, Ambition and Survival (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2014) was a New York Times bestseller and PEN USA literary award finalist. More about Peter Stark’s books, articles, and contact information can be found at peterstarkauthor.com.

Published

What It Feels Like to Die from Heat Stroke

Your head is pounding, your muscles are cramping, and your heart is racing. Then you get dizzy and the vomiting starts. Heatstroke kills thousands of people every year. This is what it feels like—and how to know when you’re in danger.

Amy Ragsdale and Peter Stark
Jun 18, 2019

Frozen Alive

The Cold, Hard Facts of Freezing to Death

Peter Stark
Jan 24, 2017

How to Survive a Scalping

On a forgotten day in 1811, a scalped head would not only shape the American West but refashion the geopolitical future of the entire North American continent.

Peter Stark
Mar 4, 2014

The Hardest Way West

Five years after Lewis and Clark completed their famous mission, another more audacious expedition sets out for the Pacific. In this exclusive excerpt from the new book 'Astoria,' the legendary Overland Party attempts to establish America's first commercial colony on the wild and unclaimed Northwest coast—provided, of course, they survive the journey.

Peter Stark
Feb 18, 2014

The 10 Worst Ways to Die in the Wild

There are countless ways to meet your end in the great outdoors. These are ten of the most unpleasant, ignominious, and terrifying ways to go.

Scott Rosenfield and Peter Stark
Jun 25, 2013

The 10 Worst Ways to Die in the Wild

There are countless ways to meet your end in the great outdoors. These are ten of the most unpleasant, ignominious, and terrifying ways to go.

Scott Rosenfield and Peter Stark
Jun 25, 2013

Home and Away

The author packed up his house and family and moved to northeastern Brazil for a year. Fantasy or struggle? It’s complicated.

Peter Stark
Apr 9, 2012

Africa Now

Peter Stark, Hal Espen, Ted Botha, and H. Thayer Walker
Jan 4, 2007

Let the Bad Times Roll

Adventure, big and small, is all about risk. The risk that things may go terribly wrong. That danger will finally cut off your credit and hit you with a hefty bill. That luck will flee the scene as the dark tide rises. In the tales of calamity that follow, our 13 unlucky writers hold forth on their personal odysseys into the land of nightmares.

Peter Stark, Jane Smiley, Jon Lee Anderson, Ken Collins, Bucky McMahon, Skip Horner, Michael Perry, Wells Tower, Michael Behar, Ben Ryder Howe, Daniel Duane, Ace Kvale, Joe Glickman, Mark Levine, and Jason Stevenson
Oct 1, 2005

The Tree Slayer

What does a naive environmentalist discover when he buys his own forest? He's got to log it to save it.

Peter Stark
Aug 1, 2005