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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

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on 13 March 2013
If, like me, you have kept your childhood wonder about those magnicent beasts then this book is what you are looking for.

The stories and people involved in early dinosaur discoveries during the 1800s are really compelling.

The woes that befall poor Gideon Mantell are heart breaking or the villainy of Richard Owen are real page turners.

Cadbury has managed to craft an intelligent and well research history books which upon finishing made me want to dash off to Lyme Regis or to the Natural History museum to see the places and discoveries for myself. I will now see them in a much brighter light.
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on 24 August 2016
I have a confession: I’ve secretly always wanted to be a Paleontologist but Nursing was the first to accept me, so now I just contently read about portions of “former worlds” that have and are still waiting to be discovered. I’m not afraid to admit, I kept my childhood collection of fossils and unusual stones after all these years. That wonder and interest never seems to diminish in any capacity and if you are like me and get excited when a new dinosaur is unearthed and named in the news or still look for interesting rocks when you are in the garden then you will enjoy The Dinosaur Hunters: A True Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World by Deborah Cadbury.

In this completely memorizing work Ms. Cadbury takes the reins and invites the reader to take a comprehensive journey into the 19th century and experience: the dawning of incredible discoveries, consuming obsessions, distinct examples of eccentricities of genius minds, unrelenting greed and a New Year's Eve society dinner in the belly of an Iguanodon. You may think that this class of topics would be hard to follow but surprisingly this book captures the reader’s full attention and explains complicated theories and technical scientific specifics in a very friendly manner that makes this title an absolute joy to read and polished gem for readers that love relics of history, 19th century England and historic individuals you would like to add to the list of answers to that fun question: If you could invite 3 people (living or dead) to dinner, who would you choose? Well after finishing this impressive book, I would be honored if Mary Anning and Dr. Gideon A. Mantell would sit at my dinner table (the third would be Thomas Andrews, Jr. but that name pertains to a completely separate subject of history). The brilliant contributions to the advancement of geology and palaeontology these mentioned two are shown in this title to have given are just amazing and if you have never heard of Mary Anning or Dr. Gideon A. Mantell please pick up a copy or purchase The Dinosaur Hunters: A True Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World by Deborah Cadbury. After reading you will never forget their names or this fascinating book. Highly Recommend.
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I originally picked this book up last year, after visiting Lyme Regis, in the hope of learning more about Mary Anning and her fossil discoveries in Lyme that paved the way for the 'discovery' of the dinosaurs. Sadly, she features very little in this book - it is very much more about the British scientists who first began to examine fossils with a scientific eye, with an attempt to classify them and place them in an historical and geological spectrum.

Obviously fossils had long been scientific curiosities, and in other places around the world giant bones and skeletons had been emerging from the earth for centuries. But it wasn't really until the advent of the science of geology that scientists began to examine what remains of creatures embedded within rock actually meant, what the different layers of rock signified about different eras in history, and how this new fossil record cast doubt on the Biblical explanation of human history. Two British scientists were at the forefront of these discoveries - Gideon Mantell and Richard Owen, the latter being the man who coined the term 'dinosaur'.

This book is written very much as an account of the scientific progress and rivalry of these two men - Mantell the earlier, unheralded discoverer of many of the most significant fossil finds, Owen the man who built on (and in some cases stole, or at the very least heavily plagiarised) Mantell's discoveries to achieve wealth, esteem and scientific recognition for himself. Owen is very much the villain in this book! Other well-known figures from 19th century science make an appearance - Mary Anning, who found the first ichthyosaurus skeleton that began the whole affair; Charles Lyell; Charles Darwin; William Buckland; Georges Cuvier.

It was an interesting read, although not quite the book I was hoping for. Knowing next to nothing about, and with even less interest in, geology, rock strata and scientific classification, I found this a bit tedious on occasion, but the human interest of the narrative kept me reading.
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on 28 April 2005
As a child over thirty years ago, there was nothing more that interested me than dinosaurs. Today, with scientists recently debating the realistic oportunities of studying dinosaur DNA (something laughed at when the film "Jurassic Park" came out ten years ago !!), Deborah Cadbury's excellent book takes me back to the days of my tea card books where the prehistoric animal series featured accounts of Gideon Mantell and Richard Owen - the two protagonists in the early days of dinosaur research. Looking back to these books, our image of the fantastic creatures has changed dramatically over the last 30 years and Cadbury's account captures the wonderment of the scientists of the first half of the 19th Century as they tried to make sense of the finds for the very first time. Their reconstructions were often hopelessly wrong and the numerous illustrations in this book are fascinating in their Victorian perception of the prehistoric world. This was a time when Noah's flood was still taken seriously.
As if the account of the early days of palaeontology is not interesting enough, this book is livened up by the story of Mantell's and Owen's rivalry and how the latter managed to suppress the former's theories and eventually discredit him. However, the author keeps us guessing as to whether Mantell would eventually come to be vindicated keeping the reader guessing until the end. Will the villainous Owen eventually get his just deserts ? You will have to read the book to find out !!
With our benefit of 170 years of scientific research, the valiant attempts of the great scientific minds of the age to solve the mystery of the dinosaurs now seem quaint and I kept on thinking just how suprised these people would be if we could tell them what we well know now. All in all, this is the kind of book that you will find impossible to put down.
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on 21 April 2016
A difficult task to knit all these scientists together and give an overview so a bit heavy going in places but interesting to dip into.
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on 16 November 2010
The Dinosaur Hunters is one of the best written science/history books I have read in a long time. I think the only books I have read that are on a par with it are 'Stars Beneath The Sea' and 'A Fish Caught In Time'. The story is one that is perhaps a little overlooked amongst the great stories of science but it is well and truly brought to life by Deborah Cadbury. Although fascinating from a scientifically and historically it is perhaps as a story of people that is the real strengh of this book. Although the book fetures stars like Darwin, Huxley, and Cuvier it is the lesser known characters of Gideon Mantell, Mary Anning and Richard Owen who's lives Cadbury skilfully draws you into. Thoroughly researched, beautifully crafted, and sensitively written. The world needs more books like this.
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on 11 November 2000
How do you make a popular page-turner out of a musty pre-Victorian academic squabble? Deborah Cadbury clearly knows how. The blurb tells you that you won't be able to put "The Dinosaur Hunters" down and for once, it's true. The pathos of Mantell, the honest Lewes GP being ripped-off by Owen, the streetwise London anatomist is poignant, but there's more, much more.
Remember reading about the Corn Laws at school? Mary Anning knew more than she would have liked about their effects on the poor of the early 19th century, yet in her efforts to scrape a meagre living she uncovered two pivotal classes of pre-historic marine reptile.
Stephen Jay Gould has pointed out what a poor old fool William Buckland was to cling so tenaciously to the idea of the Biblical flood. Cadbury is more sympathetic, and explores the deep rift in scientific philosophy between revolutionary France and reactionary England. After all, before Darwin all the rationalists had to replace Moses with was the now (to some)laughable Lamarck - a man who is put by Cadbury in his proper context as a visionary who was so much closer to what we now regard as the truth than were his contempories.
My disappointment was to find out that 150 years ago there was a Royal Sussex Institution on Old Steine in Brighton, filled with bones of dinosaurs from the Tilgate Forest, which is no longer there. Has Brighton Corporation attached a blue plaque to the building yet, and if not, why not?
If you want a flavour of what it was like to hunt dinosaurs before there was such a word, this book should be your starting point.
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on 28 September 2014
Fascinating and highly readable account of a moment when big ideas clashed, Church battled Science over the question of evolution, and some very human stories of struggle and chance and opportunism emerge along with the discovery of dinosaurs and more.
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on 22 March 2002
The Dinosaur Hunters tells the story of the pioneers of dinosaur discovery in England. These were a mixed bunch indeed, and this is what I found truly fascinating. That Mary Anning, a woman on the poverty line, could play as big a part as Gideon Mantell and establisment figure Richard Owen is extraordinary.
We take the dinosaurs for granted these days, and it is easy to forget that nobody had much of a clue what they would have looked like or what size they were after finding the first few bones. The book brings this discovery to life and puts the flesh on the bones, so to speak.
It's a great human and scientific story - and this juxtaposition is what makes the book gripping.
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on 11 February 2017
I bought this for work, but I'm really getting into it. Really interesting and really builds a picture of the social structure and politics around fossil hunting, and the burgeoning science of dinosaur
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