- Paperback: 375 pages
- Publisher: Rabelais Publishing; Expanded edition (2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-13: 978-0983355106
- ASIN: 098335510X
- Package Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,710,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Bone War of Mccurtain County: A True Story of Two Ordinary Men's Quest for Treasure and Their Epic Battle Against Extraordinary Odds Paperback – 2013
In the 1880s, during America's first Gilded Age, two eccentric and aristocratic scientists, Othniel Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, engaged in an anomalous, competitive trek to outdo each other in a paleontological contest of numbers - a bone war. This war, fought in the vast panorama of the American West, was an invidious contest of egos and wills to decide who could recover, identify, and document the most prehistoric fossils from an unrecorded past. This competition spurred the greatest spree of fossil discoveries in history, at least until America entered a second Guided Age one-hundred years later in the 1980s, as new technologies and finances propelled another round of bounteous fossil discoveries. During this second American Gilded Period, an improbable bone war in provincial southeastern Oklahoma was fought over ownership rights to one of the single greatest fossil discoveries of the century, indeed, of all history. This war was fought between two local naturalists against entrenched paragons of institutional dominance - a giant corporation, two major universities and cloistered academics, the state legislature, and a wealthy fossil tycoon. Cephis Hall, an Arkansas hillbilly, and Sid Love, a Choctaw Indian, dug their prize from a corporate waste-holding pit near the edge of the Mountain Fork River. The discovery set in motion a chain of events that would alter their lives forever as they embarked upon an epic journey and conflict against mighty foes in a David versus Goliath scenario. Cephis Hall and Sid Love faced a whirlwind of controversy as they found themselves at the crossroads of science, politics, and religion. Powerful people and institutions wanted to confiscate their treasure. A tale of mystery, adventure, and nature - Indiana Jones southern style. Buried treasure, dinosaurs, greed, corruption, moonshine, pot fields, quartz crystals, and an unauthorized version of the American Dream. This amazing true story is stranger than fiction.
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This book’s cover has a serene enough looking image of what appears to this reader as a river flowing through the woods. An image of some of the characters on the cover, however, may have been a good addition in this reader’s opinion though.
Switching gears away from the cover of the book and to the editing, the overall editing is clean. For example, Ferrell correctly uses grammar rules, making this book easy on this reader’s eyes.
The pacing and style of this book also drew me in, because of the reminder that this is a glimpse into American history. The author also has a way of writing where the style and pacing is both engaging in this reader’s opinion.
In addition, the character development mostly reflects in one of the main characters: Cephis. Since we as readers are mostly following his narrative in this story, there is a sense of development as he adapts to the growing pressures both external and internal alike. However, at the risk of revealing too much about this book’s plot, I will say no more about that.
Overall, I would rate this book 4 stars out of 5 stars for the reasons already explained above.
Ferrell has a fantastic writing style for the historical genre. It is clear that he not only knows the details inside and out, but you can feel his personal connection to the story come through in his prose. With my B.A. degree in History, I have read a lot of dry, historical books that make past events so dull you can't believe anyone could stand to live in that time period. Ferrell's writing is just the opposite. It is definitely not lite reading, but for those interested in history, historical fiction, paleontology or even archeology, this book would be a slam dunk.
The story itself is a fascinating tale of the underdog. Two men, one a hillbilly, the other a Choctaw Indian, were essentially just small town Americans searching for dinosaur bones. What they found was unbelievable; the Acrocanthosaurus, the largest bipedal carnivore of the Cretaceous period (the only larger theropod was T. Rex millions of years later). The author does an amazing job explaining the intricacies of the fossil finds while touching on the paleobiological significance of the spines on the fossil neck. The reader gets a real feel for the dig, the men and the struggle they endured to uncover this amazing treasure.
I was totally engrossed in The Bone War and would highly recommend it. It is a very well written time capsule of an amazing discovery and the two men who battled mosquitoes, snakes and the corporate world to claim it.