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Bone Wars: The Excavation Of Andrew Carnegie's Dinosaur Paperback – May 16, 2004
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From Library Journal
When Pittsburgh steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie opened the Carnegie Institute in 1895, he hoped that his friend O.C. Marsh would provide a dinosaur for his new museum. However, Marsh died in 1898, leaving Carnegie without a dinosaur. Then the New York Post published a story about a colossal sauropod skeleton found in Wyoming by a man named Bill Reed. Carnegie was determined to get the fossil for his museum, but the University of Wyoming was just as determined. Carnegie's fortune eventually won the prize. When the dinosaur was excavated, it was named Diplodocus carnegii in his honor, and casts of the fossil were displayed around the world. Journalist Rea researched the tale of the Diplodocus fossil from original correspondence. He begins his book where the famous feud between Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope ended, skipping the earlier history of fossil discoveries in the Western United States, which has already been covered in David Wallace's The Bonehunters' Revenge (LJ 9/15/99) and Mark Jaffe's The Gilded Dinosaur (LJ 1/00). Recommended for academic and public libraries. Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In the late 1800s, the discovery of dinosaur bones in Wyoming sparked a scientific gold rush among museums, universities, and individuals looking for a part of the glory and fame. Among the interested parties was steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who, at that time, was looking to sell his business interests and build a museum. Carnegie's agent, a man named Holland, found himself drawn into a tumultuous race for the biggest and best skeleton yet. Very few tactics were considered too heinous to be employed by someone. As the museums and universities lured away and recruited one another's scientists and fossil prospectors, Holland explored loopholes in the land-claim laws that might allow him to take possession of land on which discoveries had already been made. Others, in the fields, smashed and destroyed dinosaur bones so that no one else would find them intact. Rea pieces together countless bits of information to construct an overall picture of this period of scientific discovery. Gavin Quinn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Little Brown and Company
writer: BRUCE MILLER
With his big bushy moustache and sun-weathered skin,
Tom Rea looks like one of the tough paleontologists staring
out of one of the black-and-white photographs in his book,
Bone Wars: The Excavation and Celebrity of Andrew Carnegie's
Dinosaur. His voice, though, has the soft polite tone of a
professional who has worked indoors for the better part of his
life. Imagining Rea to be like one of the men he wrote about is
probably a tribute to how vividly he portrays the people who
made Carnegie's dinosaur such a sensation. Rea is quick to
cite the abundance of letters he used as primary source material.
"The whole story is filled with interesting characters," says Rea.
"The personalities are so strong in those letters. I don't know if
it's the line of work that draws strong-minded people to it --
they certainly weren't in it for the money -- but in any case they
didn't want other people to get in the way of finding out what
the bones could tell them. Sometimes they disagreed quite strongly."
Rea comes from a family that knows geology and paleontology
-- his uncle is a geologist; his brother is a geologist at the
University of Michigan; geology was also his mother's avocation
-- but he came to write his book by following a less scientific
path. He grew up in Pittsburgh looking at Carnegie's dinosaur
at the Carnegie Museum. After graduating from Williams
College in Massachusetts in the early 1970s, Rea spent a few
summers visiting his uncle's ranch. He became a reporter for
the Wyoming's Casper Star-Tribune for the next 13 years,
though he maintained an amateur interest in geology and
paleontology. In 1990, he started working on an article
for the paper about, how Carnegie's famous dinosaur
made its way from Wyoming to Pittsburgh.
During his research, he became fascinated with the fossil digs
and disputes that surrounded the unearthing of the bones.
When he quit the paper in 1998, he wanted to write a
book about a number of these controversies,
but an editor suggested he focus on just one. Then, in 1999,
he came to the Carnegie Museum.
"Not until I got here did I realize how many letters they were,"
says Rea. "They had archives there that yielded all the
resources to write the book I wanted to write."
Correspondence between Carnegie and then-museum director
William Holland, who Rea says figures as "the Darth Vader of
the story," was right next door at the Carnegie Library. Rea
ended up using the archives of a number of Pittsburgh groups.
"[Holland's] secretary typed and saved every letter, even put
them in chronological order, so it was very easy to follow,"
The first person who caught Rea's attention was Bill Reed, the
tough, autodidactic Wyomingite who found Carnegie's dinosaur.
"He was a frontiersman who was dealing with people from the
East who didn't particularly respect him because he was a
Westerner," Rea says. "It was a different time back then. A guy
like Reed who'd been a buffalo hunter and snow shoveler on
the railroad was one acquaintance away from the richest man in
the world. Although the men were divided profoundly by class
and opportunity, they were still all connected."
The story of Carnegie's dinosaur was "a natural for a book,"
and Rea easily sold the idea to the University of Pittsburgh
Press, then wrote it in a year and a half. This is Rea's first
published book, though perhaps not his last. Now he is
considering writing book about Earl Douglas,
the paleontologist who found the Jurassic quarry
of dinosaur bones that is now the Dinosaur National Monument
in Utah and Colorado.