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The Bonehunters' Revenge: Dinosaurs, Greed, and the Greatest Scientific Feud of the Gilded Age
When dinosaur fossils were first discovered in the Wild West, they sparked one of the greatest scientific battles in American history. Over the past century it has been known by many names -- the Bone War, the Fossil Feud -- but the tragic story of the competition for fame and natural treasure between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, two leading paleontologis ...more
Paperback, 366 pages
Published December 14th 2000 by Mariner Books
(first published October 12th 1999)
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In preparation for an adventure in American Paleontology, this book was suggested to me as a way of gaining a broader understanding of that discipline’s start. I had recently read Url Lanham’s The Bone Hunters so I was familiar with the subject matter sufficiently to be familiar with the major players (Edward Drinker Cope - “EDC”) and Othniel Charles Marsh – “OCM”) of the founding and development of American Paleontology. These two giants of the field are credited with finding, naming and publi ...more
"When dinosaur fossils were first discovered in the Wild West, they sparked one of the greatest scientific battles in American history. Over the past century it has been known by many names -- the Bone War, the Fossil Feud -- but the tragic story of the competition for fame and natural treasure between Edward Drinker Cope and Othnial Charles Marsh, two leading paleontologists of the Gilded Age, remains prophetic of the conquest of the West as well as a watershed event in science.
"With a[n] histo ...more
"With a[n] histo ...more
Wallace’s book is about the paleontological feud that occurred between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh during the Gilded Age (The squabbling started during the Grant Administration and continued into the 1890’s when both men died.). Cope and Marsh were both involved with the discovery in western US fossil beds of many dinosaur and prehistoric mammal species. Some of their finds are still known today (though others has been revised as new information came in). Many of their specimen ...more
The problem with history is that it's never quite as narratively satisfying as fiction. I've probably said that before, but I'm of a mind to insist that it bears repeating. Real-life dramas may be fascinating precisely because they actually happened, with details that would strain suspension of disbelief past the breaking point in a novel, but the vast majority of the time the events simply unfold, as history does, without the steadily raised stakes and increased action leading to an explosive c ...more
Apr 09, 2015 Dan rated it liked it · review of another edition
An interesting look into the classic bone feud between the famous paleontologists Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope. It takes an interesting slant by viewing the feud through the lens of what was published at the time in the New York Herald. The backstory leading up to the newspaper climax was the most interesting portion. The epilogue was irrelevant to the rest of the book which featured a watered down 'feud' which is really just a disagreement between modern scientists followed up ...more
This was a re-read for my current novel project, and it reminded me again why I found the tale of Othniel C. Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope so inspiring. It's almost too good to be true, two intelligent scientists who take different paths to the study of paleontology--and to a lifelong hatred. David Rains Wallace does a great job both of capturing their personalities and outlining the ways in which they battled, both in the pages of nineteenth century scientific journals and the arid badlands of ...more
This book made me wish I lived during a time when major newspapers were batshit crazy and published whatever the hell they wanted. Other than that, it started slow and took a bit too long to wrap up, but I really enjoyed the story of two very smart men not content with their own discoveries attempting to ruin each other's life by acting like babies. 19th century paleontology was fun!
Aug 02, 2007 Kay rated it really liked it
Cope vs. Marsh in one of the greatest rivalries in the history of science. Their longstanding feud was so incredibly spiteful and petty -- it's a prime example of the sort of rivalries that are far more common in science than most people would imagine. My husband, a scientist, especially enjoyed this book -- he's seen his share of scientific infighting, I'd imagine, and can relate.
Who else loves detailed accounts of legendary feuds between arcane specialists? Come here for fossil theft, bone vandalism, scientific plagiarism, government corruption, newspaper vitriole, death by Sioux, and even Syphilis. Helps you see Stephen Jay and good ol' E.O. in a new light.
David Rains Wallace is an author of geography and geology related books. His book, The Klamath Knot, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal in 1984.More about David Rains Wallace...