Becky Spratford's Reviews > The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Stephen Brusatte
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it was amazing

Three words that describe this book: popular science, lively voice, engrossing

First, who doesn't love a dinosaur book? I mean, everyone in my house does. We have been the the Evolving Planet exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago more times than I can count. Before they recently renovated it, all four of us knew every sign, video, and display by heart yet still visited all of the time. I follow Sue the T-Rex on Twitter for goodness sake.

So this book didn't have to even be great for me to love it, but you know what, it is great, like really great. Okay, I'll stop sounding like a fan girl and explain why someone would want to read it like the professional I proclaim to be.

This is the perfect example of popular science done well. This book is written for the masses but it doesn't talk down to people either. Brusatte is an accomplished and brilliant scientist, he shares a lot of scientific detail but also presents it in an order that is easy to follow. I am not going to recap what he covers because the title and the publisher description tell you that.

It is in HOW he tells the story that makes this book 5 stars. There is a lot of detail not only about the evolution of of dinosaurs from pre-dinosaurs to today's birds, but also so much about how scientists work and build off of each other. Brusatte's discussions of how science works-- how one study leads to another, how our knowledge of the past changes over time, how hard people work to answer one small evolutionary question and how that can change everything-- those parts were riveting. He shows-- not just tells- us how research builds from scientist to scientist to give us knowledge.

Also this book was surprisingly fast paced for all of the learning and detail. The audio was just over 10 hours, but I never felt rushed. He told me everything. And I should stress that about the audio experience. It is a first person narration making this part popular science, part memoir. That narration kept me focused. It was so personal. I felt like Brusatte was telling me, and only me, all of this information. His lectures must be awesome for his students.

Now that being said, I normally don't like nonfiction where the author inserts themselves into the story as much, but here I did. I think it was because he only inserted himself in terms of his professional life.

I enjoyed how he doesn't even entertain people who don't believe in evolution. There was a line about how if you don't believe in it, I cannot help you and then....moving on.

In particular I love how much he makes clear how long dinosaurs ruled the earth, and how easily they could still be here [if not for the asteroid], and how that means we wouldn't be here. It was unsettling but also fascinating.

I you want to read a book about the scientific process or you love dinosaurs or you just want to learn something new about our natural world, this is a great choice.

Readalikes: Obviously other dinosaurs books. There were 2 dinosaurs books on many best lists last year, this one and THE DINOSAUR ARTIST by Paige Wilson. That one is more of scientific mystery/thriller but they pair well together.

The popular science/nature books by Sy Montgomery like THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS also make a good readalike in tone and style. Montgomery adds a bit more memoir to her stories.

The way Brusatte builds his arguments reminded me of the way David Grann writes evenjhough their topics are different and Grann is a historian. I can't really explain it. Click here for more by me about that:

NoveList also recommends two books I think would work too-- Spying on Whales by Nicholas Pyenson and The Equations of Life: How Physics Shapes Evolution by Charles Cockell
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Reading Progress

January 15, 2019 – Started Reading
January 15, 2019 – Shelved
February 14, 2019 – Finished Reading

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