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on 3 May 2011
This is a great book for anybody that has an interest in Natural History. As a big fan of the Natural History museum I was interested in learning more about what goes on behind the scenes and this has proved to be the perfect book for my quest! Richard Fortey explored the back rooms of the museum when he was working there and admits that even over that time he realises that there is still so much that he hasn't yet seen. Obviously this is a world that will remain closed off for the rest of us but I found it so fascinating to think about all these different rooms filled with weird and wonderful relics, fossils and collections. Fortey shares his knowledge throughout the book, complemented by his quirky sense of humour. He gives detailed descriptions of the different rooms filled with drawers upon drawers containing collections of insects and birds to the bizarre sounding Spirit Rooms which previously held the jars of preserved animals and bits and pieces. Fortey describes eccentric characters that he met during his time there, including some very funny little stories about his co-workers and their activities!
There are some wonderful pictures of some of the exhibits and collections.
Overall a brilliant read, lots of great information. Taxonomy (the naming of names) is explained very well, and was something that I was curious about after reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. Have a read, you won't disappointed.
3 people found this helpful
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on 6 January 2015
Like lifting a veil, this book provides a tantalising glimpse of behind the scenes at one of the world's great museums and, like a comfortable pair of slippers, you immediately feel at home.

Behind the scenes are a veritable theatrical production of characters, a world of mysterious exhibits and collections and a way of life which immediately makes you want to explore and learn more - the perfect backdrop for such an establishment.

This good read, creating a very satisfying feeling of knowing more than the public should and making you feel part of the place. Great stuff.
One person found this helpful
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on 2 January 2018
Really loved this book. It’s amazing getting to know about the life behind the locked doors of a place so many of us know well. I would recommend this to any natural history enthusiast (or even someone who just likes museums), because it’s really interesting to learn about the wonderful people who contribute so much to the knowledge of our world.
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on 3 September 2009
This is a personal view of life at the NHM with plenty of interesting science thrown in. It's a good mixture of anecdotes and fact, a difficult balancing act given the size of the museum and the length of its' history. Fortey himself just edges on the
irritating at times but his account is well written overall and easy to read. So if 'popular science' is a category you would browse I recommend this book.
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on 17 May 2015
Ah!... Richard Fortey, ace story teller and an insider who brings a place full of dead things to life. Fascinating stuff.
One person found this helpful
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on 31 August 2013
I am reading this on a KIndle-maybe that makes a difference-but oh so difficult to become engaged-so many words (and I like Russian novels). I was going to buy it for my brother for Christmas-thought he might like to re-visit Museum-now not so sure
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on 8 March 2016
Book was a bit wordy. However it was good value for money.
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on 7 February 2009
While the book doesn't really live up to expectations - no uncovering of marvelous little secrets, for instance - it is fascinating to read & quite gripping. Fortey writes wonderfully well & his enthusiasm really carries you along & his explanations of complicated ideas make things easy to understand. I'd expected to pick it up from time to time but discovered it was a page-turner.
2 people found this helpful
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on 4 February 2009
Another excellent book from Richard Fortey. This is not just a history of a great museum and its (sometimes) eccentric denizens: it makes a compelling claim for the importance of their work in identifying the world's millions of species yet to be named.
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on 6 January 2015
Great book for anyone interested in museums. Prompt delivery
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