Obituary Notes: Patrick McManus; Alfred Crosby

Patrick McManus, the humorist, outdoor writer and bestselling author who "mined his own life for his stories," died April 11, the Spokesman-Review reported. He was 84. Establishing himself "as one of the country's most popular magazine writers," McManus wrote a monthly humor column called the Last Laugh from 1982 to 2009 for Outdoor Life magazine, and was also a columnist for Field and Stream from 1977 to 1982.

He published 14 collections of his columns, beginning with A Fine and Pleasant Misery (1978) through The Horse in My Garage and Other Stories (2012). McManus also wrote a series of mystery novels featuring Sheriff Bo Tully, most recently Circles in the Snow (2014). His book on writing, The Deer on a Bicycle: Excursions into the Writing of Humor, was published in 2000; and he co-wrote (with his sister Patricia McManus Gass) the cookbook/memoir Whatchagot Stew (1989).

For more than two decades, a stage adaptation of his stories has toured the country, featuring Tim Behrens in one-man shows as McManus's "indentured actor," the Spokesman-Review wrote.

"It was a pleasure to work with him," Behrens said. "I loved him. It was a very close relationship. He was a gentleman and a scholar and a wordsmith."


Alfred W. Crosby, who, in the eyes of many of his peers, was the father of environmental history, died March 14, the New York Times reported. He was 87. Crosby's childhood infatuation with Christopher Columbus "led him, as a scholar, to delve into the biological and cultural impact of Columbus's voyages to the Americas. And to purse that investigation he expanded the historian's toolkit."

In The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (1972), Crosby "examined in pithy, sometimes wry prose how disease had devastated indigenous populations after Columbus landed. He also described a parallel development that transformed global ecology forever," the Times noted. His books include Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (1986); Germs, Seeds and Animals: Studies in Ecological History (1994); The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600 (1997); and Children of the Sun: A History of Humanity's Unappeasable Appetite for Energy (2006).

Crosby's work "had wide impact," the Times wrote, noting that author Charles Mann's 2011 bestseller, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, was an effort, encouraged by Professor Crosby, to update Ecological Imperialism. "Al was an exceptionally independent thinker whose work pioneered half a dozen new genres," Mann said. "Scores, if not hundreds of writers--me among them--have scribbled their works in the margins of The Columbian Exchange and Ecological Imperialism."

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