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Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions Audio, Cassette – Unabridged, March, 2001


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Roy Chapman Andrews was never much of a scholar, and anyone who looked at his high school report card might have foretold an undistinguished future. But, from an early age, Andrews's ambitions lay outside the social norm; an ardent fan of Robinson Crusoe and a devoted outdoorsman, Andrews wanted nothing more than to be an adventurer. He got his chance when he talked his way onto the staff of the American Museum of Natural History in 1906, under whose auspices, 15 years later, he was to mount the first of his central Asian expeditions. This decade-long program of exploration took Andrews and his team into the heart of the Gobi, one of the last uncharted regions on earth.

Convinced for ideological as much as scientific reasons that humans originated not in Africa but in Asia, Andrews spent much of his time in the field seeking evidence of early man. That search would prove fruitless, for, as biographer Charles Gallenkamp notes, "nary a scrap of genuinely ancient human bone was ever retrieved by the Central Asian Expeditions." What Andrews and his colleagues did find, however, has propelled dozens of scientific missions ever since: huge caches of dinosaur bones at places such as Mongolia's Flaming Cliffs. These fossils helped demonstrate geological connections between Asia and North America, and they added dozens of new species to the paleontological record.

All the while, Andrews contended with bandits, corrupt officials, invading armies, disease, and other dangers. After finishing Gallenkamp's vigorous book, readers will understand why Andrews should have served as the model for the movie character Indiana Jones--who, if anything, pales by comparison to the real thing. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Roy Chapman Andrews, the celebrated explorer who discovered the first velociraptor skeleton in the Gobi Desert, was also a shameless self-promoter. Gallenkamp (Maya: The Riddle and Rediscovery of a Lost Civilization), in association with the American Museum of Natural History, which sponsored Andrews's 1922-1930 Mongolia expeditions, delivers a fair but unambitious portrait of this inspired traveler. Henry Fairfield Osborn, Andrews's longtime friend and mentor, once wrote to him, "You alone of all the men I know have a full measure of optimism; everyone else tells me things that cannot be done." In his lifetime, Andrews's optimism led him to the remotest regions on the globe and into the fray of world events, from WWI and civil war in Central and eastern Asia to the religious controversy over evolution. Before Andrews abandoned the Gobi in 1932 because of mounting anti-imperialism by the Chinese, the desert yielded to him a wealth of fossils: the first-ever protoceratops, oviraptor as well as the velociraptor and the modern world's first glimpse of dinosaur eggs. Gallencamp relies heavily on Andrews's own sensational writings and some secondary sources, but little that would allow us to view Andrews other than through his own eyes. It is telling, though, how much of Andrews's story is taken up by his cultivation of celebrity at home and how little of it by science. For Andrews, science was a means to an end; it gave purpose to his wanderlust. As for what drove him, Gallenkamp does not probe too deeply behind his subject's own mythmaking, but that is not his goal. This is a page-turning adventure story, and as such, it's a good one.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Books on Tape; Unabridged edition (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073667179X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0736671798
  • Shipping Information: View shipping rates and policies
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,827,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Read it as an adventure story.
D. Blankenship
The problem with it is that is too fast paces, and it jumps around a little bit, making it confusing for the reader.
Andrew
This was easily one of the best books I've read in the past year.
Bruce Loveitt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Clive E Coy on May 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
At last! - a proper adult biography of Roy Chapman Andrews. Charles Gallenkamp has written an indepth book about the life of Andrews and the times that he lived in; they are both fascinating. Despite 3 previous attempts by other authors [1930, 1968, 1972 ]to capture the true essence of Andrews, and numerous 'Juvenile' books on the market today - until Gallenkamp's 'Dragon Hunter' There has been no proper biography of Andrews written. If you love to read about real life exploration, discovery, dinosaurs, and bandits; this is a great book. If you want to learn about how Andrews put the Central Asiatic Expeditions together, how personnel was selected, life in the Gobi, and the political intrigue of 1920's China - this is also a great book you will really enjoy. 32 pages of B/W photos are reproduced on glossy paper; a few of these images have never been seen by the public before. Of particular note are the drawings by Karen Wright, which were created for this book. My one complaint is that this bio of Andrews centers around the famous expeditions to Mongolia, but does not go into as much detail about Andrews' earlier whale research days, or his life after the Mongolian Expeditions. Gallenkamp's 'Dragon Hunter' portrays the real-life accomplsihments of a real-life man; warts and all. It is a gripping read, and you quickly realize how much nonsense has previously been written about Andrews. Move over Indiana Jones - here is the real thing. The Central Asiatic Expeditions (1922-1930) comprised the most ambitious scientific venture ever launched from the United States up to that time. Supported by New York's American Museum of Natural History, Andrews and palaeontologist Walter Granger conducted five expeditions to the last unmarked areas of the globe, the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.Read more ›
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Before the Jurassic Park boom, little boys all had an enthusiasm for dinosaurs, and much of that enthusiasm was fueled by an explorer who only now has his first full biography, _Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions_ (Viking) by Charles Gallenkamp. It is a great monument to a forgotten explorer and collector.
Andrews began an autobiographical volume with a foreword that included the words, "I was born to be an explorer. There was never any decision to make. I couldn't do anything else and be happy." He had humble beginnings in Benoit, Wisconsin, but dreamed of exploring for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He literally told the director there that if it were just a matter of mopping the museum floors, that was what he wanted to do. And he did it, eventually becoming the director of the museum. From floors he went to taxidermy, and then to field expeditions about whales, and then to his five huge famous expeditions into Mongolia from 1922 to 1930. Andrews had superb skills at planning and organizing his expeditions, but was he was a brilliant salesman, enlisting the financial aid of members of New York society. The descriptions of his expeditions make exciting reading, as sandstorms, snowstorms, and brigands all battered the cars, camels, and explorers. But he brought back dinosaur eggs, which caused a sensation, _Velociraptor_, and much more.
_Dragon Hunter_ is a well researched and at times exciting telling of the adventures of an American original. Gallenkamp has usefully summarized the Mongolian regional politics as well as New York society of the time, and has made it clear just how the publicity-happy Andrews became a sensation in his day. His record had been sadly neglected by the museum, which is now making amends.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I enjoyed this book, it left me with many unanswered questions. Overall it was "dry" and I didn't get a real feel of Andrews as a man or daily life and conditions on the expeditions. Finally, the only map provided by the publishers is woeful with microscopically small type for the place names!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on October 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
I must start by admitting that as a young boy, many a many a year ago, that I thrilled to Andrews' first hand accounts of his adventures. They were the sort of stuff a small boy in the midwest dreamed of. That being said, and having to admit that I am no longer that little boy (well, not much anyway), I had very mixed emotions about this book. I was a bit disappointed in the scholarship shown at times. Some of the writing was a bit flat, and viewing Andrews through the eyes of what I know now and did not know then, Andrews' image has been sort of tarnished for me.

I think you have to read this book with a good grounding and knowledge of the attitudes of most Americans/WASPS at that time, just as you have to view the Civil War and Pre Civil War through the attitudes of that time. No, it was not right, much of what we did was wrong and down right disgusting and it was not "correct" by todays standards, but it was what it was. History is history and I do not feel the author was condoning any of the questionable actions that Andrews made. Read this book for the fun of it and then read some of Andrews' actually writings and compair. Read it as an adventure story. Yes, their are better works out there on this subject, that is a fact, but this one is simply more "fun" than most of them. Recommend.
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