Biography

I am the author of Monkey Dancing: A Father, Two Kids, and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth, published by PublicAffairs in Spring, 2003. The book is an account of a five-month, around-the-world trip I took with my two children after becoming a single father and losing my brother to breast cancer. Our journey took us to places of great ecological wonder that are threatened by human development, including coral reefs in Australia and Bali, orangutan habitat in Borneo, and the Vietnamese jungle home of the last Javan rhinos in mainland Asia.  Monkey Dancing won the Colorado Book Award and was translated into Italian and Korean, a combination that still baffles me.

Photo by Jillian Lloyd

In January, 2001, PublicAffairs published Powder Burn: Arson, Money and Mystery on Vail Mountain, an investigation into the costliest act of ecoterrorism in U.S. history. Powder Burn was praised as “an alpine Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by Outside magazine, and was a Denver Post bestseller and Colorado Book Award finalist. While writing the book, I was awarded a Ted Scripps Fellowship at the University of Colorado, one of five journalists chosen annually to spend an academic year researching environmental law, policy and science.

Prior to writing Powder Burn, I worked at Newsweek magazine for 13 years; the first six as a Washington, D.C. correspondent and the last seven as a Colorado-based special correspondent covering the Rocky Mountain region. After moving to Colorado in late 1994, I covered a rash of high-profile stories, including the JonBenet Ramsey homicide, the Columbine High School tragedy, and the mysterious crash of a fully-armed Air Force fighter jet. I appeared more than 40 times on Larry King Live as a commentator on the Ramsey case, as well as CBS This Morning, NBC News’ Today show and many others. I was also an associate producer of a critically acclaimed documentary entitled JonBenet’s America.

I traveled from the panhandle of Idaho to the bootheel of New Mexico for Newsweek, writing about a broad range of subjects — from the bison slaughter in Yellowstone National Park to a cover story about the possibility of life on Mars. While a Washington correspondent, I flew on Air Force One with two presidents (Bush père and Clinton) and contributed to several Newsweek cover stories during the Gulf War, as well as many others — including the San Francisco earthquake, the Hubble Space Telescope, gays in the military, and global warming. I reported about the demise of the Siberian tiger from the Russian Far East and traveled upcountry in Haiti with U.S. Special Forces troops in 1994 during our “intervasion.”

I have also written for more than three dozen other magazines, including National Geographic, Harper’s, Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, The New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Sunday Magazine, Outside, Esquire, Men’s Journal, Sports Afield, National Wildlife and Wilderness.

In 2009, I co-founded The Story Group, an independent multimedia journalism business. Please visit our website and contact us for assignments.

Before completing my Masters degree in journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, I lived in Asia for three years, teaching French and English in Japan and herding yaks in Tibet. I continue to love my time lost in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, skiing and kayaking.  I’ve lived more than a year on four continents, and speak fluent French, passable Spanish, and a smattering of a half dozen other languages, including Japanese, Dutch and German.  Although I’m a native Californian, I have resided in Colorado for the past 17 years.

 

In Quebec with an anesthetized lynx about to move to Colorado. Photo by Amy Toensing