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Douglas Preston (born May 20, 1956 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) is an American author who has written seventeen popular techno-thriller and horror novels, four alone and the rest with Lincoln Child. He also has authored several non-fiction books, both alone and one with Italian author Mario Spezi.
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A graduate of the Cambridge School of Weston in Weston, Massachusetts, and Pomona College in Claremont, California, Preston began his writing career at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In addition to his collaborations with Child, he has written several novels and non-fiction books of his own, mainly dealing with the history of the American Southwest. He is a contributing writer for Smithsonian, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker magazines. He has two brothers: David Preston (a medical doctor) and Richard Preston, also a best-selling fiction/non-fiction author.
Most of Preston's five nonfiction books and fifteen novels were bestsellers and have been translated into many languages. With his frequent collaborator, Lincoln Child, he has co-authored such bestselling thrillers as The Cabinet of Curiosities, The Ice Limit, Thunderhead, Riptide, Brimstone and Relic. Their novel, Cold Vengeance, which came out in August 2011, reached number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Preston writes about archeology for the New Yorker magazine and he has also been published in Smithsonian magazine, Harper's, and National Geographic. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards. He has created the character Wyman Ford, an ex-CIA agent who appears in many of his solo novels.
From 1978 to 1985, Preston worked for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City as a writer, editor, and manager of publications. He served as Managing Editor for the journal Curator and was a columnist for Natural History magazine. In 1985 he published a history of the museum, Dinosaurs In The Attic: An Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History, which chronicled the explorers and expeditions of the museum's early days. In 1989 and 1990 he taught nonfiction writing at Princeton University.
In 1986 Preston moved to New Mexico and began to write full-time. Seeking an understanding of the first moment of contact between Europeans and Indians in America, he retraced on horseback Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's violent and unsuccessful search for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. That thousand mile journey across the American Southwest resulted in the book Cities of Gold: A Journey Across the American Southwest. Since that time Preston has undertaken many long horseback journeys retracing historic or prehistoric trails. He has also participated in expeditions in other parts of the world, including a journey deep into Khmer Rouge-held territory in the Cambodian jungle with a small army of soldiers, to be the first Westerner to visit a lost Angkor temple. He once had the thrill of being the first person in 3,000 years to enter an ancient Egyptian burial chamber in a tomb known as KV5 in the Valley of the Kings.
In May, 2011, Pomona College conferred on Preston the degree of Doctor of Letters, (Honoris Causa).
Preston counts in his collateral ancestry the newspaperman Horace Greeley, the infamous murderer and opium addict Amasa Greenough, the sexologist Robert Latou Dickinson and the poet Emily Dickinson. He and his wife, Christine, live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Preston moved to Florence, Italy with his young family and became fascinated with an unsolved local murder mystery involving a serial killer, the Monster of Florence case. Both the case and his problems with the Italian authorities are the subject of his 2008 book: The Monster of Florence. The book is currently being developed into a movie by the studio Fox 2000, produced by George Clooney, in which Clooney will play the role of Preston.
Preston has criticized the conduct of Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini in the trial of American student Amanda Knox, one of three convicted of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia in 2007. In April 2009, Preston appeared in a segment of 48 Hours on CBS, in which he argued that the case against Knox was "based on lies, superstition, and crazy conspiracy theories". In December 2009, after the verdict had been announced, he appeared on Anderson Cooper 360° on CNN and described his own interrogation by Mignini. Preston said of Mignini, "this is a very abusive prosecutor. He makes up theories. He's obsessed with satanic sects."