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Dragon Teeth: A Novel by Michael Crichton
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Dragon Teeth: A Novel (original 2017; edition 2017)

by Michael Crichton (Author)

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1,3005412,470 (3.67)22
Michael Crichton, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Jurassic Park, returns to the world of paleontology in this recently discovered novel--a thrilling adventure set in the Wild West during the golden age of fossil hunting. The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America's western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. In much of the country it is still illegal to espouse evolution. Against this backdrop two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars. Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to survive a summer in the west to win a bet against his arch-rival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition.  But when the paranoid and secretive Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis, Edwin Drinker Cope, he abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a locus of crime and vice. William is forced to join forces with Cope and soon stumbles upon a discovery of historic proportions.  With this extraordinary treasure, however, comes exceptional danger, and William's newfound resilience will be tested in his struggle to protect his cache, which pits him against some of the West's most notorious characters. A page-turner that draws on both meticulously researched history and an exuberant imagination, Dragon Teeth is based on the rivalry between real-life paleontologists Cope and Marsh; in William Johnson readers will find an inspiring hero only Michael Crichton could have imagined. Perfectly paced and brilliantly plotted, this enormously winning adventure is destined to become another Crichton classic. … (more)
Member:allisonhooker
Title:Dragon Teeth: A Novel
Authors:Michael Crichton (Author)
Info:Harper (2017), Edition: 1st, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
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Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton (2017)

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» See also 22 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
What this book essentially is: a wild-west action-packed thriller with a rich young man more interested in crashing yahts than in sleeping with all the girls (which was very refreshing), dinosaur excavations, Native American Indians, betrayal, detailed photography, murder, survival, and two professors so obsessed with dinosaur bones and their hatred of one another, they'll use anyone and anything to get a foot up on each other, including the students they take along with them.

So not the Sci-fi I'm used to with Chrichton, but still just as freaking good. The fact that he wrote this based off of real people is just icing on an already delicious cake. ( )
  Arafyn | Oct 21, 2022 |
Pretty readable all around. It read a bit like a magazine art and I found the style pleasant. Since I knew it was based on actual history, I went and looked up the true story. So I learned something.. ( )
  Luziadovalongo | Jul 14, 2022 |
For a Crichton novel, Dragon Teeth is remarkably conspicuous on account of the fact that the science is toned down in this and only the narrative underscored. I found it a keen commentary on the battle between races and faith vs. science. ( )
  Amarj33t_5ingh | Jul 8, 2022 |
William Johnson is a spoiled rich kid who makes a bet with a colleague that he would go west during the summer with Prof. Marsh, the bone collector. This is very historic. Good read ( )
  henrog | Jul 4, 2022 |
I went to the library with Areg to find him a page turner and I found one for myself, as well! We got home around 4, had an afternoon tea, and by 9 pm I was done. Whew!

This turned out to be much better historical fiction than I was expecting--there's a biographical fiction element, with major secondary characters including real dinosaur bone hunters and outlaws, even though our protagonist, William Johnson, is fictional.

Johnson is a lazy, spoiled, Ivy-league rich boy who talks his way into a trip out west to dig for bones only on a bet, not realizing just how paranoid and, well, crazy the renowned Professor Othniel Marsh is. He spends his semester learning photography to maintain his cover, which already does a bit to tame his pride by giving him a task he actually has to work at to excel at--no paying his way through this one. The book description tells you what happens next: Marsh becomes convinced that Johnson is a spy sent by his rival, Edward Cope, and leaves him behind in Wyoming.


Who should happen to find him but Cope himself, who offers to take Johnson along on his own bone-hunting expedition. Contrary to Marsh's belief, Cope is not following him to steal his bones--instead, he's striking out into Montana territory on his own, without army protection, right as the Great Sioux War is picking up into full swing. To make matters worse, Marsh has slandered Cope far and wide, so that everywhere he goes he bumps into rumors and accusations that prejudice the people whose help he most needs for a safe expedition.

The rest of the story is so action-packed that a full summary would take too much space. (I'm a bit conscious of how long my last two reviews have been, particularly the one for a 120-page book.) Highlights include a successful dig, a tension-packed encounter between Cope and Marsh, meetings both peaceful and plot-propulsively hostile with Crow and Sioux American Indians, a second separation that leaves Johnson in possession of Cope's most significant find of the summer, races and escapes across the Badlands, and a high-tension couple of months in the notorious Deadwood Gulch, where no one can believe that Johnson would be so dead set on protecting boxes of bones--he must be guarding something more valuable.

Johnson's new-found photography skills come in useful in maintaining his finances but turn disastrous when he captures an image of a murderer who won't hesitate to kill again in order to destroy the evidence. Fortunately, he has friends as well as enemies among the notorious outlaws: the wily Earp brothers and a young, first-generation Chinese boy are on his side as long as he has money, but those professional relationships yield more loyalty than they are, strictly speaking, worth. Another bone-rattling race out of Deadwood to escape his unintended enemies leads Johnson to what ought to be safety...until a final confrontation with none other than the conniving Professor Marsh.


All along the way, Crichton seamlessly integrates real American history, even including some excerpts from books and newspapers of the time, to illuminate just how rapidly the American West was "opening" to "progress", and the tragic and bloody results of that rapid expansion. These asides are concise, rarely taking a whole page and never slowing the plot (for me, at least). He does caution readers in an afterword not to read the book as history, pointing to a few places where he fudged timelines to demonstrate that the book is fiction. Dragon Bones was published almost ten years posthumously, and had he written it today Crichton probably would have been encouraged to be more balanced in describing the devastation wreaked on the American Indian populations. Though he does mention some of the ways that the U.S. government deliberately decimated their way of life, writing a thriller from the perspective of a white boy from the east coast does skew the perspective enough to make me uncomfortable. I'm fortunate in knowing just enough about this time in history to read critically.

Honestly, my biggest beef with this book is the T-rex skull on the front and sharp teeth decorating the section breaks in the pages. Johnson and Cope make a significant discovery in the Montana badlands, but T-rex ain't it: the bones they find are from the largest herbivore found up to that point, not a carnivore. Ah well, that's book marketing for you. It's really no big deal to the story, as the bones are carefully packed away in boxes for most of the plot.

If you're looking for a fun and informative historical thriller, give Dragon Bones a shot! ( )
  books-n-pickles | Apr 10, 2022 |
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William Jason Tertullius Johnson, the elder son of Philadelphia shipbuilder Silas Johnson, entered Yale College in the fall of 1875.
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Michael Crichton, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Jurassic Park, returns to the world of paleontology in this recently discovered novel--a thrilling adventure set in the Wild West during the golden age of fossil hunting. The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America's western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. In much of the country it is still illegal to espouse evolution. Against this backdrop two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars. Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to survive a summer in the west to win a bet against his arch-rival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition.  But when the paranoid and secretive Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis, Edwin Drinker Cope, he abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a locus of crime and vice. William is forced to join forces with Cope and soon stumbles upon a discovery of historic proportions.  With this extraordinary treasure, however, comes exceptional danger, and William's newfound resilience will be tested in his struggle to protect his cache, which pits him against some of the West's most notorious characters. A page-turner that draws on both meticulously researched history and an exuberant imagination, Dragon Teeth is based on the rivalry between real-life paleontologists Cope and Marsh; in William Johnson readers will find an inspiring hero only Michael Crichton could have imagined. Perfectly paced and brilliantly plotted, this enormously winning adventure is destined to become another Crichton classic. 

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