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Author, environmentalist Peter Matthiessen dies at 86

Peter Matthiessen, a rich man's son who spurned a life of ease in favor of physical and spiritual challenges and produced such acclaimed works as "The Snow Leopard" and "At Play in the Fields of the Lord," died Saturday. He was 86.His publisher Geoff Kloske of Riverhead Books said Matthiessen, who had been diagnosed with leukemia, was ill "for some months." He died at a hospital near his home on Long Island.Matthiessen helped found The Paris Review, one of the most influential literary magazines, and won National Book Awards for "The Snow Leopard," his spiritual account of the Himalayas, and for "Shadow Country." His new novel, "In Paradise," is scheduled for publication Tuesday.A leading environmentalist and wilderness writer, he embraced the best and worst that nature could bring him, whether trekking across the Himalayas, parrying sharks in Australia or enduring a hurricane in Antarctica.He was a longtime liberal who befriended Cesar Chavez and wrote a defense of Indian activist Leo...

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