Once again author Michael Crichton weaves a tale that blends fiction and historical facts to make a fascinating story. (Sadly, Crichton passed away in 2008-truly one of modern greats.) The novel centers around a Yale student of wealth and privilege, William Johnson, who decides to go West on a bet with another student. The venture West to the Dakota and Montana Territories of 1876 is fraught with danger and led by Othniel C. Marsh, a professor of paleontology.
The search is for dinosaur bones hidden within the vast amount of rock.
Fairly quickly Johnson is abandoned in Cheyenne, Wyoming by Marsh due to unfounded suspicions that he is a spy for another professor of paleontology, one Edward Drinker Cope.
In reality and within the story, these two professors had quite the rivalry and enmity between them.
Fortunately for Johnson, he finds himself recruited by Cope and aids him on his excavations.
Johnson’s story is a vehicle to tell of the incredible finds by Cope in the wild and dangerous Badlands of Montana. Not to spoil it for you, suffice it to say Johnson does return East, a changed man. 5 stars.