Dinomania Why we love, fear and are utterly enchanted by dinosaurs

Boria Sax

Book - 2018

The story of our unlikely romance with the dinosaurs, from the finding of their enormous bones to the dinosaur theme parks of today.

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Subjects
Published
London : Reaktion Books 2018.
Language
English
Physical Description
264 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 23 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 247-257) and index.
ISBN
9781789140040
1789140048
Main Author
Boria Sax (author)
  • Dragon bones
  • How dragons became dinosaurs
  • Mister Big and Mister Fierce
  • From the Crystal Palace to Jurassic Park
  • The dinosaur renaissance
  • The totem of modernity
  • Extinction
  • A dinocentric world.
Review by Booklist Reviews

The last dinosaurs died 65 million years before the evolution of the first humans. Despite this long separation, and no humans ever seeing a living Tyrannosaurus rex or Iguanodon, we hold dinosaurs in high regard. Our fascination with these Mesozoic creatures has influenced thousands of years of culture, art, literature, religion, and science. How can this be, when dinosaurs weren't identified by humans until the mid-nineteenth century? According to Sax, stories of Aboriginal Australians' Rainbow Serpent, Leviathan in the New Testament's book of Revelation, and dragons of many eras all sprang from the finding of what we would now call dinosaur fossils. These discoveries also shaped our concepts of evolution and extinction. In this wide-reaching social history of the dinosaur-human relationship, Sax brings the story up to the present by highlighting contemporary museum exhibits, amusement parks, genre fiction, movies, and toys. With many historical illustrations, Dinomania is an entertaining addition to literature on popular science, pop culture, and public opinions. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

This compact, attractively illustrated little book attempts to document the cultural enthusiasm for dinosaurs through history. The steps it takes are uneven. Sax (literature, Mercy College) is on fairly firm but already well-trod ground when it comes to the actual history of dinosaur paleontology and dinosaurs in popular culture. When he speculates on the possibility of dinosaur-inspired depictions of monsters in Renaissance art, he is on shakier turf. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that humans found dinosaur bones prior to their scientific description in the 19th century and tried to interpret them within their framework of understanding. But interpreting a Byzantine icon depicting Saint Christopher as a giant with a dog's head as inspired by prehistoric bones is a howler. This is just one example of many cases of wild speculation. A horse skull in a Bosch painting is mistaken for a cow's. Based on its disproportionately large size, it is offered as another example of potential dinosaur inspiration. Despite these shortcomings, reading through the book is nevertheless rewarding for its unique and provocative take on more recent dinosaur enthusiasm. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers.--W. L. Cressler III, West Chester University of PennsylvaniaWalter L. CresslerWest Chester University of Pennsylvania Walter L. Cressler Choice Reviews 56:08 April 2019 Copyright 2019 American Library Association.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

From Jurassic Park to Sue the T-Rex and Barney, our dino love affair is as real, as astonishing, and as incomprehensible as the gargantuan beasts themselves. At once reptilian and avian, dinosaurs enable us to imagine a world far beyond the usual boundaries of time, culture, and physiology. We envision them in diverse and contradictory ways, from purple friends to toothy terrors'reflecting, in part, our changing conceptions of ourselves. Not unlike humans today, dinosaurs seem at once powerful, almost godly, and helpless in the face of cosmic forces even more powerful than themselves. In Dinomania, Boria Sax, a leading authority on human-animal relations, tells the story of our unlikely romance with the titanic saurians, from the discovery of their enormous bones'relics of an ancient world'to the dinosaur theme parks of today. That discovery, around the start of the nineteenth century, was intimately tied to our growing awareness of geological time and the dawn of the industrial era. Dinosaurs' vast size and power called to mind railroads, battleships, and factories, making them, paradoxically, emblems of modernity. But at the same time, their world was nature at its most pristine and unsullied, the perfect symbol of childhood innocence and wonder. Sax concludes that in our imaginations dinosaurs essentially are, and always have been, dragons; and as we enter a new era of environmental threats in which dinos provide us a way to confront indirectly the possibility of human extinction, their representation is again blending with the myth and legend from which it emerged at the start of the modern age. Fun and ferocious, and featuring many superb illustrations of dinosaurs from art, popular culture, film, and advertising, Dinomania is a thought-provoking homage to humanity's enduring dinosaur amour.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

From Jurassic Park to Sue the T-Rex and Barney, our dino love affair is as real, as astonishing, and as incomprehensible as the gargantuan beasts themselves. At once reptilian and avian, dinosaurs enable us to imagine a world far beyond the usual boundaries of time, culture, and physiology. We envision them in diverse and contradictory ways, from purple friends to toothy terrors—reflecting, in part, our changing conceptions of ourselves. Not unlike humans today, dinosaurs seem at once powerful, almost godly, and helpless in the face of cosmic forces even more powerful than themselves. In Dinomania, Boria Sax, a leading authority on human-animal relations, tells the story of our unlikely romance with the titanic saurians, from the discovery of their enormous bones—relics of an ancient world—to the dinosaur theme parks of today. That discovery, around the start of the nineteenth century, was intimately tied to our growing awareness of geological time and the dawn of the industrial era. Dinosaurs’ vast size and power called to mind railroads, battleships, and factories, making them, paradoxically, emblems of modernity. But at the same time, their world was nature at its most pristine and unsullied, the perfect symbol of childhood innocence and wonder. Sax concludes that in our imaginations dinosaurs essentially are, and always have been, dragons; and as we enter a new era of environmental threats in which dinos provide us a way to confront indirectly the possibility of human extinction, their representation is again blending with the myth and legend from which it emerged at the start of the modern age. Fun and ferocious, and featuring many superb illustrations of dinosaurs from art, popular culture, film, and advertising, Dinomania is a thought-provoking homage to humanity's enduring dinosaur amour.