Staff Pick

Like a massive trove of fossils, each skeleton with dozens of stories to tell, this phenomenal book is at once natural history and a history of paleontology; it’s a biography of fossil hunters from 1841—when Sir Richard Owen coined the word “dinosaur,” meaning “terrible lizard”—to today, when successful amateur hunters risk becoming felons; it’s an overview of women paleontologists, with fascinating profiles of Mary Anning, who began collecting and selling Jurassic fossils in Lyme Regis when she was a teenager, and Bolor Minjin, a Mongolian scientist who founded the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs and initiated science education programs for children in Mongolia; it’s a true crime story about the international smuggling of Mongolian fossils and the Mongolian government’s efforts to repatriate them; and, finally, it’s an authoritative presentation of the complex questions of natural history relics and who has the right to them. Williams, a vivid and energetic writer, organizes all this material around the story of Eric Prokopi, a Florida fossil hunter and dealer. Prokopi’s career coincided with discoveries like that of Tyrannosaurus Sue, a South Dakota skeleton that sold for $8.36 million in 1992. As “fossils became money,” scientists grew concerned that specimens crucial to research would disappear into private collections. Though efforts to restrict private ownership of fossils has been slow in the U.S., Mongolia passed strict laws prohibiting export of bones found within its borders. These laws caught up with Prokopi just as he’d prepared a rare Tyrannosaurus bataar—related to the T. rex—for auction in 2012. It would have sold for a million dollars, but the lot had originated in the Gobi Desert. The sale was cancelled, Prokopi was tried and convicted of smuggling, and the bones went back to their home. Williams presents the competing claims so compellingly that you root for both sides.    

The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest for Earth's Ultimate Trophy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316382533
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Hachette Books - September 11th, 2018

Staff Pick

I myself am squarely in the camp of people who probably don't need to buy another book about trees as long as I live, but whether you're in that camp with me, or could stand to learn the first thing about distinguishing an oak from a maple, Around the World in 80 Trees is exceptional in every sense of the word. Divided by continent, you’ll find a fascinating introduction to each species accompanied by in situ watercolor illustrations as captivating as any children’s picture book, as scientifically attentive as any field guide. 

Around the World in 80 Trees: (The perfect gift for tree lovers) Cover Image
By Jonathan Drori, Lucille Clerc (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781786271617
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Laurence King Publishing - May 29th, 2018

Staff Pick

The Chesapeake’s Tangier Island has been sinking due to storms and the natural action of the sea since records have been kept, but climate change has rapidly accelerated the process. It will be uninhabitable in twenty-five to fifty years; with a population of roughly 700, and with decreasing stock of the crabs and oysters that support the community, is it worth the billion-plus dollars it would take to save it? And just what would we lose if the place disappears? Swift’s detailed profile of a year among the people who may become “America’s first climate change refugees” makes the question infinitely complicated. Whether eulogy or celebration, however, the book is a fascinating and often beautiful look at a unique way of life. Swift chronicles the human and natural history, highlighting landmark moments—many involving storms—from the eight or more generations of families that have lived there, describes the life cycle of the region’s distinctive blue crabs, and follows the watermen as they set and check their pots. He revels in the unusual, almost cockney English that flourishes on this isolated dot of land and undertakes the more difficult process of uncritically conveying the rigid evangelicalism that causes the islanders to trust in divine providence, reject science, and look to Trump to appreciate their “patriotism, reverence, …[and] strong work ethic” and reinforce their shoreline. Though Trump is sympathetic, it’s likely the ocean will rise faster than the bureaucratic wheels can turn, and even a state-of-the-art seawall won't keep out the rising ocean forever.

Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062661395
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dey Street Books - August 7th, 2018