Staff Pick

The phenomenal The Dinosaur Artist (Hachette, $28) is at once natural history and a history of paleontology; it’s a biography of fossil hunters, an overview of women paleontologists and a true crime story about the international smuggling of Mongolian fossils, and, finally, it’s an authoritative presentation of the complex questions of natural history relics and who has the right to them. Paige Williams organizes all this material around 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 because the lot had originated in the Gobi Desert, the sale was cancelled, Prokopi was 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
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316382533
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Hachette Books - September 11th, 2018

Share this
Staff Pick

Jonathan Franzen opens The End of the End of the Earth (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26), his urgent collection of nonfiction, by trying to establish the rules of what he’s doing. Is an essay “something ventured on the basis of the author’s personal experience,” or is it “the formal apparatus of honest self-examination and sustained engagement with ideas”? Franzen covers friendships and family dramas, but also reports on the state of the environment and relentlessly questions his role as a privileged Westerner in a world of vast inequality. Above all, he puts everything in the context of climate change. “Global warming is the issue of our time, perhaps the biggest issue in all of human history.” Given that the Anthropocene may mean the end of civilization, how do we live in it? How do we think about it? In order to “accept the reality in time to prepare for it humanely,” one rule might be looking squarely at what’s there and how our actions are affecting it. Franzen does this by watching birds. They are for him “a way of experiencing” the place he’s in as well as “the most visible indicator of a healthy ecosystem.”

The End of the End of the Earth: Essays Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374147938
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - November 13th, 2018

Share this
Staff Pick

Confronted with an image whose age, provenance, and purpose we don't know, how do we make sense of what we see? If "we" are part of Western culture, we’re likely to see what the classical tradition has taught us to see. As the world-renowned classics scholar Mary Beard shows in her beautiful How Do We Look (Liveright, $24.95), whether we realize it or not, we interpret, and often judge, a work according to how it compares with iconic pieces such as the Apollo Belvedere, which in the eighteenth century seemed virtually to set the standard for the civilized figure. While Westerners may still seek out works "fully understandable in our own aesthetic terms," things have changed a lot in recent decades. Beard's book, which includes the two sections she contributed to the new BBC series Civilisations—which substantially updates Kenneth Clark's 1969 Civilisation—focuses on images of the human body and images of divinity. Both surveys take Beard beyond Athens and Rome to Mexico, China, Cambodia, Turkey, and India; throughout, she examines the importance of context and perspective, traces arguments against idolatry, looks at the effects of iconoclasm, and rejects artist-centered criticism for one that puts “the viewers of art back into the frame.”

How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781631494406
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - September 4th, 2018

Share this

Pages