03 February 2014

Review: Terrible Lizard by Deborah Cadbury

Hardcover, 374 pages
Published 2001 (originally 2000)

Borrowed from the library
Read January 2014
Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science
by Deborah Cadbury

This material, despite its inherent interest (Victorian dinosaurs, man!), could easily have been dull in the hands of another writer. Thankfully, Cadbury keeps it very interesting, by turning it into a sort of group biography. This is the birth of paleontology, as told through the life histories of William Buckland, Mary Anning, Gideon Mantell, Richard Owen, Thomas Henry Huxley, and more. I particularly liked the story of Mary Anning, from carpenter's daughter to a key figure in paleontology, but always disadvantaged due to her class and gender. She sketches all these characters in with great deftness, and one enjoys learning little things about them as we go from "undergroundology" to the first instance of dinomania. I am so disappointed that I did not know about the Crystal Palace dinosaurs when I went to London!

No comments:

Post a Comment