Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions

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9780142000762: Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions

The New York Times science editor John Noble Wilford has called the Central Asiatic Expeditions (1922-1930) "the most celebrated . . . of the twentieth century." Led by world-renowned explorer Roy Chapman Andrews, the five expeditions uncovered unimagined scientific wonders: the Flaming Cliffs, dinosaur eggs, the first skeleton of Velociraptor (the terrifying killer of Jurassic Park fame), and a fossil treasure trove of other dinosaurs and extinct mammals.

In Dragon Hunter, Charles Gallenkamp vividly recounts these extraordinary adventures while telling Andrews's incredible life story-from his beginnings as a floor sweeper at the American Museum of Natural History to his international fame as one of the century's most acclaimed explorers. Filled with astonishing tales of political intrigue and braving the elements, Dragon Hunter is a thrilling page-turner that takes readers along on one of the most important scientific missions in history.

"Enormously entertaining." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Amazing stuff . . . an incredibly exciting life." (National Geographic Explorer)

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Review:

Roy Chapman Andrews was never much of a scholar, and anyone who looked at his high school report card might have foretold an undistinguished future. But, from an early age, Andrews's ambitions lay outside the social norm; an ardent fan of Robinson Crusoe and a devoted outdoorsman, Andrews wanted nothing more than to be an adventurer. He got his chance when he talked his way onto the staff of the American Museum of Natural History in 1906, under whose auspices, 15 years later, he was to mount the first of his central Asian expeditions. This decade-long program of exploration took Andrews and his team into the heart of the Gobi, one of the last uncharted regions on earth.

Convinced for ideological as much as scientific reasons that humans originated not in Africa but in Asia, Andrews spent much of his time in the field seeking evidence of early man. That search would prove fruitless, for, as biographer Charles Gallenkamp notes, "nary a scrap of genuinely ancient human bone was ever retrieved by the Central Asian Expeditions." What Andrews and his colleagues did find, however, has propelled dozens of scientific missions ever since: huge caches of dinosaur bones at places such as Mongolia's Flaming Cliffs. These fossils helped demonstrate geological connections between Asia and North America, and they added dozens of new species to the paleontological record.

All the while, Andrews contended with bandits, corrupt officials, invading armies, disease, and other dangers. After finishing Gallenkamp's vigorous book, readers will understand why Andrews should have served as the model for the movie character Indiana Jones--who, if anything, pales by comparison to the real thing. --Gregory McNamee

From the Publisher:

10 1.5-hour cassettes

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