He became most noted for writing nonfiction about nature and travel, but at considerable personal cost (financial and otherwise) he wrote about the plight of Native Americans (and specifically what could well be the most conspicuous injustice of 20th century America, the continuing incarceration of Leonard Peltier), and then about his Buddhist practice.
He also wrote novels, the form of writing that was most important to him. More than 30 books all told, in a long, rich and singular life that ended at the age of 86.
But he is such a unique writer that even the most ardent readers of some of his books may well be immune to others. Of his novels, I've read and admired Raditzer and especially At Play in the Fields of the Lord. But I have yet to yield to the charms of the Watson series of fictions he worked and reworked in recent years, including his National Book Award winning Shadow Country (which made him the only writing to win this award in both fiction and non-fiction.)
The official publication date of his latest and now last novel is this coming Tuesday. It's called In Paradise.
Here's his New York Times obituary. And here is a New York Times Magazine article with interviews during his last days. May he rest in peace. His work lives on.