Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

William Johnson was a Yale student who joined a hunt for dinosaur bones because of a bet.  He and another schoolmate got in argument and the other student declared him not brave enough to make the trip.  He added that he would pay him a thousand dollars if he did it.  That was enough incentive for Johnson.  He went down asked to sign up.  And was told no...

Harper and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 23rd.

Johnson pesters the professor until he agrees to let him come if he's a photographer.  He lies and says he is and then works harder than he worked in school to get proficient and be able to fulfill his duties.  He starts his journey as a young naive too-trusting man.  His professor won't tell him where they are going or anything about the journey.  He questions him about anyone he speaks to.  He tells tales about another professor who does the same kind of work.  And then he deserts him in one town and goes on by himself with the rest of the crew.

While he's sitting in the restaurant feeling sorry for himself, he's told that the professor would like to speak to him.  It's the other professor.  And he'd be happy to take Johnson on his expedition.  Johnson agrees.  What other choice does he have?  The problem is that this professor is no more honest than the other one.

Johnson finds himself in Indian country.  They make friends with the local Crow Indians but the Sioux will be going through and they hate white men.  He almost succeeds in getting out with the crew but he and two more are sent back to get more boxes.  By that time, the Sioux have arrived.  They get the boxes, his crew mate is killed as they escape and his guide dies a few days later.  He arrives in Deadwood and plans to send a telegraph to his father.  There's no telegraph.  There's not even a sheriff.  (The last one got killed.)

This is a fictional account that reads almost like a western but the people were real.  Johnson learns about how easy it is to get killed by a gunman, almost gets hoodwinked by a woman, and has more trouble with both professors.

What was fascinating to me was that they found brontosaurus teeth in their dig.  The year was 1876 and I didn't realize we had paleontologists around the states then.

You learn about excavating fossils, Indian wars and white man's wrongs and how wild and wicked some western "towns" were.  This was an interesting look back at history and it wasn't boring in the least.  It was a very good read.

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