The Gilded Dinosaur: The Fossil War Between E.D. Cope and O.C. Marsh and the Rise of American Science

Jaffe, Mark

Published by Three Rivers Press, 2000
ISBN 10: 0609807056 / ISBN 13: 9780609807057
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Synopsis: It was an age of counterfeit giants, corrupt politicians, and intrepid pioneers. It was a time of scientific ferment. The second half of the 19th century — the so-called Gilded Age — was a time when Americans were exploring the West and building a nation which stretched from coast to coast. It was also when scientists began finding dinosaur fossils across the western half of the nation.

Could the answer to the history of life and the proof of evolution be found in these bones? That was the question two young American paleontologists — Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh — set out to answer. But what began as a friendly contest quickly turned into a bitter rivalry that would spill over into American science and politics and rage relentlessly for nearly three decades.

Despite their Gilded Age celebrity, the names of Cope and Marsh have disappeared into the recesses of the library and archive. In The Gilded Dinosaur, Mark Jaffe exhumes from those archives the notes, journals, and letters of these two great opponents to reanimate and retell one of the most fierce rivalries in the history of science.

Review: Feuds are common to all fields of human endeavor, but only scientists see them as integral to their work. Scientific progress is always contentious, as we are reminded by science writer Mark Jaffe in The Gilded Dinosaur, his delightful examination of the well-known war between paleontologists Edward Cope and O.C. Marsh in the context of the development of American science. Jaffe has delved deeply into the historical record to illuminate these large personalities and their struggle for access to physical and political territory on which to build their competing scientific empires. Fossil-hunting was inextricably linked with the expansion into the West, the explosion of industrial capitalism, and the new expression of America's status as a world power. Cope and Marsh, in part through their competition for scarce financial and scientific resources, forced the United States to build a scientific establishment combining elements of the public and private sectors.

Jaffe is careful with his details; though there are many of them, they always illustrate his themes and portraits rather than distracting from them. Instead of reproducing the legendary protracted newspaper battle in its entirety, he samples a few headlines and paragraphs, then explores the motives and reactions of the principals. Cope comes across as far more sympathetic than Marsh, but the reader is left with the sense that this reflects historical truth more than journalistic bias. How can you take two egos, thousands of tons of rocks and bones, and make a scientific infrastructure so sturdy that today's schoolchildren grow up with Apatasaurus? The Gilded Dinosaur explains it all. --Rob Lightner

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Title: The Gilded Dinosaur: The Fossil War Between ...
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: PAPERBACK
Book Condition: Very Good

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. illustrated edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. It was an age of counterfeit giants, corrupt politicians, and intrepid pioneers. It was a time of scientific ferment. The second half of the 19th century the so-called Gilded Age was a time when Americans were exploring the West and building a nation which stretched from coast to coast. It was also when scientists began finding dinosaur fossils across the western half of the nation. Could the answer to the history of life and the proof of evolution be found in these bones? That was the question two young American paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh set out to answer. But what began as a friendly contest quickly turned into a bitter rivalry that would spill over into American science and politics and rage relentlessly for nearly three decades. Despite their Gilded Age celebrity, the names of Cope and Marsh have disappeared into the recesses of the library and archive. In The Gilded Dinosaur, Mark Jaffe exhumes from those archives the notes, journals, and letters of these two great opponents to reanimate and retell one of the most fierce rivalries in the history of science. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780609807057

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. illustrated edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. It was an age of counterfeit giants, corrupt politicians, and intrepid pioneers. It was a time of scientific ferment. The second half of the 19th century the so-called Gilded Age was a time when Americans were exploring the West and building a nation which stretched from coast to coast. It was also when scientists began finding dinosaur fossils across the western half of the nation. Could the answer to the history of life and the proof of evolution be found in these bones? That was the question two young American paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh set out to answer. But what began as a friendly contest quickly turned into a bitter rivalry that would spill over into American science and politics and rage relentlessly for nearly three decades. Despite their Gilded Age celebrity, the names of Cope and Marsh have disappeared into the recesses of the library and archive. In The Gilded Dinosaur, Mark Jaffe exhumes from those archives the notes, journals, and letters of these two great opponents to reanimate and retell one of the most fierce rivalries in the history of science. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780609807057

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