Accompanying the television series, this is an illustrated history of dinosaurs, from their first appearance in the middle of the Triassic period to their sudden demise, 160 million years later, at the end of the Cretaceous era.
The most spectacular aspect of the book is the images, which are basically stills from the accompanying television documentary series. By using state-of-the-art computer graphics and animation of models a new kind of "reality" is introduced. The dinosaurs are portrayed against real landscapes, which were specially photographed for the series. The combined effect is to produce a wonderful array of new images of dinosaurs and other contemporary animals from marine and flying reptiles to mammal ancestors.
Even die-hard dinophobes would have to admit that Tim Haines and the BBC team have produced something of a coup, which comes very close to their aim of making a film about dinosaurs as if they were living animals. All that is missing is David Attenborough lurking in the undergrowth.
The other novel aspect is that rather than trying to take a general swipe across all of dinoland, they sensibly focus on a limited number of scenes in time which the scientists know most about. So the story starts in New Mexico, as it was 220 million years ago (Late Triassic times), and focuses on the early days of dinosaur evolution. We are swept through four successive time frames before fetching up at the end of the dinosaur road with the aptly named Hell Creek in the western US, 65 million years ago.
Designed for dinofans of all ages, this spectacularly illustrated book is a significant addition to dinoliterature, offering a well balanced view of the "pros and cons" of the dinodebate today. -- Douglas Palmer