978-0-618-08240-7 / 0618082409

The Bonehunters' Revenge: Dinosaurs and Fate in the Gilded Age

by Wallace, David Rains

Publisher:Mariner Books



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About the book:

It's sad but true--Jerry Springer's roots go deep in American culture. Even scientists of the Victorian era could jump on stage and start slugging, as we learn in The Bonehunters' Revenge. This smart, adventurous book by nature writer David Rains Wallace examines the long-standing feud between paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, and especially their month-long 1890 death match in the pages of the New York Herald. The bizarre--by modern newspaper standards--series of interviews, letters, and editorials, promoted and escalated by publisher James Gordon Bennett (a kind of proto-Hearst), threw accusations of theft, forgery, vandalism, plagiarism, and worse back and forth until both men fell back, exhausted and nearly broken.

Wallace gives his readers far more than a simple freak show, though; he shows us that behind the controversy lay a crucial political struggle for control not just of fossils but the fate of the western territories. The methods Cope and Marsh used to control and divert fossils inevitably guided the expansion and settling of these lands, and Wallace argues forcefully that this competition started the boom of unsustainable growth that we are only now beginning to recognize. So by all means enjoy watching the fists fly in The Bonehunters' Revenge, but remember what happens to those who don't learn from the past. --Rob Lightner

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