cover image Tooth & Claw: The Dinosaur Wars

Tooth & Claw: The Dinosaur Wars

Deborah Noyes. Viking, $18.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-425-28984-6

The title of this account aptly references both the breakthrough discoveries and the obsessive rivalry between two 19th-century American paleontologists. Born into a Quaker family in Philadelphia, Edward Cope was a self-taught prodigy with a passion for the natural sciences. While traveling in Europe, Cope met Othniel Charles Marsh, who would become Yale’s first professor of paleontology, and the two bonded over their shared ambition—before “the blade of rivalry” severed their friendship. Noyes (The Magician and the Spirits) provides a snappily written account of the equally indomitable scientists’ frenzied race to be the first to locate, excavate, and assemble dinosaur bones and name species. Laced with jealousy, betrayal, sabotage, and revenge, this quest brings them to various sites as their professional and personal enmity plays out in the press. The author provides insight into the rivals’ outsize personalities and casts their story against the volatile political, territorial, and economic landscapes of the era. Still, while she acknowledges that white Americans were then conducting an “attack on the Plains Indians’ way of life,” her language veers into bias in places, generalizing the Crow as “congenial” and “peaceful” and some lands as “unknown terrain.” Sidebars and cameos give the book additional historical context. Ages 10–up. (Apr.)