Keith C. Petersen
“I literally had dreams about John Mullan.”—Keith Petersen
Keith Petersen’s first John Mullan encounter came as an undergraduate history major. He found that although many Northwest history books mention the remarkable soldier/engineer, builder of the last link in Thomas Jefferson’s transcontinental Northwest Passage, no one had unearthed much about his life beyond construction of the road.
Petersen’s curiosity lingered for decades, and he eventually set out to tell the story himself. He traveled coast to coast, visiting more than two dozen libraries and archives. What he discovered wasn’t always flattering. “Even heroes have flaws,” he says.
As Idaho’s State Historian and Associate Director of the Idaho State Historical Society, Petersen’s fascination with history has been expressed throughout his career. The author of numerous articles and books about the Northwest, he is the only person to have twice received the Idaho Book Award. This is his third book with Washington State University Press, where he formerly served as acquisitions editor.
Petersen received the first annual Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Humanities from the Idaho Humanities Council in 1986, the Presidential Medallion from Lewis-Clark State College in 2006, and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Idaho in 2014. He is happy to participate in interviews and scheduled speaking engagements.
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