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Raptor Red Hardcover – August 1, 1995

4.5 out of 5 stars 209 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Narrated from the point of view of a dinosaur, paleontologist Bakker's novel is filled with facts and informed speculations regarding dinosaur life.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

The dinosaur known as "raptor" first became well known through Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park (Knopf, 1990). Revolutionary paleontologist Bakker (The Dinosaur Heresies, LJ 11/1/86), who consulted on the special effects for the film adaptation, has written a novel that might be subtitled "A Year in the Life of a Dinosaur," as he tells the story of Raptor Red, a giant carnivore of the Early Cretaceous period. Having lost her mate in a botched hunting attack, Red (so-named because of the red stripe on her snout distinguishing her from other raptor species) joins forces with her sister and her sister's three chicks to survive in a world of hostile natural forces. Bakker manages to mix scientific theories?some of which are definitely on the cutting edge?with a rip-roaring narrative. Perhaps even more miraculously, he has created a sympathetic nonhuman heroine without anthropomorphizing her into a Disney character. This astonishing and successful novel will appeal to a wide audience and belongs in all fiction collections.
-?Eric W. Johnson, Teikyo Post Univ. Lib., Waterbury, Conn.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (August 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553101242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553101249
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I wouldn't have thought what Robert Bakker has done in this book was possible! Certainly his academic work grabbed the public imagination, and his factual book "The Dinosaur Heresies" stirred up controversy with his theory that dinosaurs were actually fast, warm-blooded animals quite like modern mammals and birds. But to write a full-length novel about the day-to-day life of a dinosaur? How interesting could that be?

Well, maybe it's me - when I was a boy I used to devour the "animal books" of Jack London and Ernest Seton Thompson - but I just couldn't put "Raptor Red" down. You hear that said a lot, but this time it was literally true. Told in the present tense throughout, this story simply rips along, going from one thrilling episode to another and astonishing you with little-known but exciting facts and informed speculation.

By the way, the heroine (you have to call her that) turns out to be almost identical to the "velociraptors" in the film "Jurassic Park". (Please see the first Comment below this review for a correction of the following statements). At the time, everyone thought Steven Spielberg had contradicted all the scientific evidence by making his raptors twice as big as human beings - then in 1982, the year before the film was released, someone dug up fossils from a raptor that was almost identical to Spielberg's. That animal - christened Utahraptor - is Raptor Red, and she tangles with some scary opposition along the way. You wouldn't think there would be much that could threaten a fast-moving 500-pound monster with razor-sharp claws and teeth... until page 16, anyway.

Bakker is a born writer, and not only does he keep the action humming along, he even finds time for a lot more character development than you will find in many novels about people.
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Format: Paperback
Not everyone can write a book about a dinosaur from the dinosaur's point of view and get away with it. In fact, few have ever tried. Bakker succeeds in this undertaking for several reasons, not the least of which is because he really knows his science. The last time I read a book of this kind, in which the author attempted to evoke the life experience of another animal from the animal's point of view, was when I read Gordon Allred's great little book "Dori, the Mallard" way back in the late 60's. He's the only guy I ever knew who could describe what it was like to be a duck from the duck's point of view. Bakker's book is equally compelling.

The second reason this book works is because it resonates with a rare kind of credibility. No one really knows if Raptor Red or any other raptor was really sentient, nor does anyone really know whether the abstract ideas Bakker posits for her were actually part of her way of intepreting her life experience. No one knows because we simply can't know such things, but the very notion of it is compelling for those who have witnessed sentience in other species in our own life experiences.

The physical attributes he attributes to her, such as the size of her brain relative to her overall mass and structure, is reasonable. The conclusion he draws, that she was unusually intelligent because she possessed a big enough brain to sustain thoughtful sentience, is a product of reasonable scientific extension of known facts. The keenness he attributes to her olfactory and visual senses is acceptable because it is based on sound scientific information that is universally known and widely accepted.
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Format: Paperback
Using fiction to expand the audience for a scientific idea is a novel ploy. Robert Bakker has given us one of the best examples of this technique. In The Dinosaur Heresies, Bakker presented a beautifully written, but highly detailed, account of the likely scenarios of dinosaur existence. The full range of dinosaur life was described with elegant care, overlaid with Bakker's fine wit. But the wealth of information in that book may have deterred some readers from delving into what was basically a serious description. Here, Bakker's simply dumped much of the scientific annotation to provide a similar depiction of dinosaur life.
Raptor Red incorporates a recent find of a large predatory dinosaur. Having positioned the find with its cognomen, Utahraptor, Bakker weaves a highly plausible tale of likely events in this creature's life. Cleverly portraying Raptor Red as female, he gives the "character" a wider range of experiences. Most of these are fully credible based on the increased knowledge gained by teams of paleontologists and volunteers. For example, recent finds indicate dinosaurs, unlike most of today's reptiles, probably stayed with nestlings after the hatch. Bakker has done a credible job in working in this concept and other revisionist thinking about probable dinosaur behaviour.
We must be careful in assessing whether Bakker has taken liberties with levels of dinosaur intelligence. Science has revealed unexpected mental capacity in the minute fruit fly [see Jonathan Weiner's Time, Love, Memory for a fascinating account]. Dinosaurs reigned over the planet for over 150 million years. That's a fine testimonial to their adaptability and capacity for survival.
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