Assembling the Dinosaur: Fossil Hunters, Tycoons, and the Making of Spectacle Audiobook, by Lukas Rieppel Play Audiobook Sample

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Assembling the Dinosaur: Fossil Hunters, Tycoons, and the Making of Spectacle Audiobook, by Lukas Rieppel Play Audiobook Sample
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Author: Lukas Rieppel Narrator: Pete Cross Publisher: Dreamscape Audio Length: Release Date: June 2019 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9781974961733

Publisher Description

A lively account of how dinosaurs became a symbol of American power and prosperity and gripped the popular imagination during the Gilded Age, when their fossil remains were collected and displayed in museums financed by North America’s wealthiest business tycoons.

Although dinosaur fossils were first found in England, a series of dramatic discoveries during the late 1800s turned North America into a world center for vertebrate paleontology. At the same time, the United States emerged as the world’s largest industrial economy, and creatures like Tyrannosaurus, Brontosaurus, and Triceratops became emblems of American capitalism. Large, fierce, and spectacular, American dinosaurs dominated the popular imagination, making front-page headlines and appearing in feature films.

Assembling the Dinosaur follows dinosaur fossils from the field to the museum and into the commercial culture of North America’s Gilded Age. Business tycoons like Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan made common cause with vertebrate paleontologists to capitalize on the widespread appeal of dinosaurs, using them to project American exceptionalism back into prehistory. Learning from the show-stopping techniques of P. T. Barnum, museums exhibited dinosaurs to attract, entertain, and educate the public. By assembling the skeletons of dinosaurs into eye-catching displays, wealthy industrialists sought to cement their own reputations as generous benefactors of science, showing that modern capitalism could produce public goods in addition to profits. Behind the scenes, museums adopted corporate management practices to control the movement of dinosaur bones, restricting their circulation to influence their meaning and value in popular culture.

Tracing the entwined relationship of dinosaurs, capitalism, and culture during the Gilded Age, Lukas Rieppel reveals the outsized role these giant reptiles played during one of the most consequential periods in American history.

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Quotes

  • “Rieppel traces the commingling of capitalism and science…Thrilling museum fossil displays burnished the reputations of philanthropists who backed the institutions, such as Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan―even as the tycoons twisted the dinosaurs’ demise into a metaphor for the advance of ‘enlightened’ corporate culture.”

    - Nature
  • “Assembling the Dinosaur is…particularly valuable for its contribution to enhancing our understanding of how science and its representation during that period were influenced by, and in turn affected, society as a whole…Rieppel shines new light on the history of both American paleontology and museum exhibition practice.”

    - Science
  • “Pete Cross offers a solid, easy-to-follow narration of this work about dinosaurs, museums, and American exceptionalism. His even tone carries the text well. He varies it effectively to point out irony and humor…This book is more about American culture than paleontology. Scientific terms are limited, and sentence structure generally is straightforward. Thus, it translates well to audio.”

    - AudioFile

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About the Author

Lukas Rieppel is the David and Michelle Ebersman Assistant Professor of History at Brown University. He has held fellowships from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University, the Science in Human Culture Program at Northwestern University, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

About the Narrator

Pete Cross is an Earphones Award–winning narrator. He holds a BA in theater from the University of Toledo and an MFA in acting from the California Institute of the Arts. His experience on stage includes Carnegie Hall, and he has also acted in film. He has served on the faculty at Cal Arts and with Aquila Morong Studio in Hollywood. He has coached for film and theatrical productions and continues to work with private clients all over the world.