Dragon Teeth: A Novel
Last of Crichton’s books, published nigh on a decade after his passing, Dragon Teeth follows William Johnson as he travels into the American West in the late 1800s. At first he was to accompany Othniel Marsh, but the paranoid paleontologist left Johnson behind, deciding he must be a spy of Marsh’s rival. Unable to return home, Johnson ends up working for that rival, joining Edward Cope’s research team as a photographer. This is a snapshot of one of the most unusual “wars” of US history, the “Bone Wars” between two legends of paleontology: Othniel Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope.
Unlike Jurassic Park, Dragon Teeth focuses on true paleontology and actual historical events. Written with Crichton’s typical flare for adventure, our protagonist journeys from the learning bastions of the East to the Badlands in the West. Over the course of the story, Johnson goes from a rich, spoiled schoolboy to a calm, self-assured, mature man. To even keep the gig with Marsh, he must learn the art of photography. Then he gets left behind by Marsh, and rather than reneging on a bet, he signs on with Cope’s expedition. With Cope, there is greater freedom, if more hardship, and it quickly becomes clear that, while he is many things, he’s not how Marsh described him. Johnson ends up separated from Cope’s group when he and two others volunteer to go retrieve the second half of the boxed bones being brought back East and get attacked. He is presumed dead and ends up in the town of Deadwood. By the time Johnson returns home, he has quite the tale to tell.
I devoured this book in about three hours. Crichton is a favorite author, and Jurassic Park is among my favorite books. I was floored when I first came across Dragon Teeth before it’s release. I thought Pirate Latitudes was the last Crichton book I’d get to read. That it was about paleontology, and true events, was icing on the cake. It may not have had the scientific or moral/ethical questions of his other books, but it did illuminate an unusual and fascinating spot of history. Highly recommended!!
This page was created by an City Book Review staff member.
|Page Count||304 pages|
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