DRAGON HUNTER: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions

Charles Gallenkamp, Author, Michael J. Novacek, Foreword by . Viking $29.95 (344p) ISBN 978-0-670-89093-4

Roy Chapman Andrews, the celebrated explorer who discovered the first velociraptor skeleton in the Gobi Desert, was also a shameless self-promoter. Gallenkamp (Maya: The Riddle and Rediscovery of a Lost Civilization), in association with the American Museum of Natural History, which sponsored Andrews's 1922–1930 Mongolia expeditions, delivers a fair but unambitious portrait of this inspired traveler. Henry Fairfield Osborn, Andrews's longtime friend and mentor, once wrote to him, "You alone of all the men I know have a full measure of optimism; everyone else tells me things that cannot be done." In his lifetime, Andrews's optimism led him to the remotest regions on the globe and into the fray of world events, from WWI and civil war in Central and eastern Asia to the religious controversy over evolution. Before Andrews abandoned the Gobi in 1932 because of mounting anti-imperialism by the Chinese, the desert yielded to him a wealth of fossils: the first-ever protoceratops, oviraptor as well as the velociraptor and the modern world's first glimpse of dinosaur eggs. Gallencamp relies heavily on Andrews's own sensational writings and some secondary sources, but little that would allow us to view Andrews other than through his own eyes. It is telling, though, how much of Andrews's story is taken up by his cultivation of celebrity at home and how little of it by science. For Andrews, science was a means to an end; it gave purpose to his wanderlust. As for what drove him, Gallenkamp does not probe too deeply behind his subject's own mythmaking, but that is not his goal. This is a page-turning adventure story, and as such, it's a good one. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Compact Disc - 978-0-7366-7618-2
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-14-200076-2
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