Cover image for Bone wars : the excavation and celebrity of Andrew Carnegie's dinosaur
Bone wars : the excavation and celebrity of Andrew Carnegie's dinosaur
Rea, Tom, 1950-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Pittsburgh, Pa. : University of Pittsburgh Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
x, 276 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QE705.U6 R43 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Rea recreates a remarkable story of hubris, hope, and turn-of-the-century science in this true tale of how a fossil unearthed in the badlands of Wyoming in 1889 helped give birth to the public's fascination with dinosaurs. 35 illustrations.

Author Notes

Tom Rea grew up in Pittsburgh admiring the dinosaurs at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Now a freelance writer, for a dozen years he covered politics, education, and science for the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming's largest newspaper. He lives in Casper, Wyoming, with his family

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In the late 1800s, the discovery of dinosaur bones in Wyoming sparked a scientific gold rush among museums, universities, and individuals looking for a part of the glory and fame. Among the interested parties was steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who, at that time, was looking to sell his business interests and build a museum. Carnegie's agent, a man named Holland, found himself drawn into a tumultuous race for the biggest and best skeleton yet. Very few tactics were considered too heinous to be employed by someone. As the museums and universities lured away and recruited one another's scientists and fossil prospectors, Holland explored loopholes in the land-claim laws that might allow him to take possession of land on which discoveries had already been made. Others, in the fields, smashed and destroyed dinosaur bones so that no one else would find them intact. Rea pieces together countless bits of information to construct an overall picture of this period of scientific discovery. --Gavin Quinn

Library Journal Review

When Pittsburgh steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie opened the Carnegie Institute in 1895, he hoped that his friend O.C. Marsh would provide a dinosaur for his new museum. However, Marsh died in 1898, leaving Carnegie without a dinosaur. Then the New York Post published a story about a colossal sauropod skeleton found in Wyoming by a man named Bill Reed. Carnegie was determined to get the fossil for his museum, but the University of Wyoming was just as determined. Carnegie's fortune eventually won the prize. When the dinosaur was excavated, it was named Diplodocus carnegii in his honor, and casts of the fossil were displayed around the world. Journalist Rea researched the tale of the Diplodocus fossil from original correspondence. He begins his book where the famous feud between Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope ended, skipping the earlier history of fossil discoveries in the Western United States, which has already been covered in David Wallace's The Bonehunters' Revenge (LJ 9/15/99) and Mark Jaffe's The Gilded Dinosaur (LJ 1/00). Recommended for academic and public libraries. Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Bone Wars is not a book of science. It is not even a book about science. Rather, journalist Rea focuses on the dynamic history of the ego-driven acquisition of (at the time) the world's largest dinosaur specimen. In the years following Andrew Carnegie's 1895 establishment of the Carnegie Institute, he longed for impressive fossil specimens to display in the Institute's Museum of Natural History. After he failed to acquire dinosaur specimens from O.C. Marsh of Yale's Peabody Museum, news of the discovery of the "most colossal animal" near Laramie, Wyoming led Carnegie to resolve to have his own dinosaur specimen collected for the museum. Bone Wars traces the history of the discovery, unearthing, and reconstruction of Diplodocus carnegii, revealing the personalities of the men and women involved in bringing the 84-foot-long dinosaur to Pittsburgh and plaster casts of the specimen to heads of state throughout the world. Rea's recounting of the history is interesting, comfortable to read, and well illustrated with historical photographs and drawings. Recommended for all levels of readers. T. J. Kroeger Bemidji State University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
1. Diplodocus carnegiip. 1
2. The Freehearted Frontier Hunterp. 12
3. The Most Colossal Animalp. 29
4. Culture in the Iron Cityp. 42
5. A Lizard in Wyoming Politicsp. 52
6. Uncle Sam's Landp. 59
7. Hewn into Fragmentsp. 68
8. Some Good Luck at Lastp. 87
9. The Ample Fossil Fieldsp. 99
10. Noble Champions of Truthp. 118
11. Patagoniap. 123
12. No More Reeds, No More Wortmansp. 135
13. Southern Dreamsp. 144
14. When the Flag Dropsp. 158
15. Heads and Tailsp. 179
16. Celebrityp. 198
Epiloguep. 212
Milestonesp. 217
Notesp. 218
Bibliographyp. 259
Indexp. 271