Dinosaurs in the Attic: An Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History

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Overview

Dinosaurs in the Attic is a chronicle of the expeditions, discoveries, and scientists behind the greatest natural history collection every assembled. Written by former Natural History columnist Douglas Preston, who worked at the American Museum of Natural History for seven years, this is a celebration of the best-known and best-loved museum in the United States.

This armchair ramble from Manhattan Square to the ends of the Earth is a chronicle of the expeditions, ...

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Dinosaurs in the Attic: An Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History

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Overview

Dinosaurs in the Attic is a chronicle of the expeditions, discoveries, and scientists behind the greatest natural history collection every assembled. Written by former Natural History columnist Douglas Preston, who worked at the American Museum of Natural History for seven years, this is a celebration of the best-known and best-loved museum in the United States.

This armchair ramble from Manhattan Square to the ends of the Earth is a chronicle of the expeditions, discoveries, and scientists behind the greatest natural history collection ever assembled--the collection of The American Museum of Natural History. 16 pages of photos.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A rare treat...utterly wonderful to museum buffs." —Publishers Weekly

"Conveys the feeling of excitement and unflagging curiosity of those working behind the scenes to add to mankind's knowledge of the natural world." —Lorin Nevling, Jr., Director Emeritus, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

"Dinosaurs in the Attic is not just chronicle, or even history-it is literature, and a damn good read!" —Charles R. Crumly, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University

"The raucous and heroic history of one of America's best-loved museums...a beguiling book." —Chicago Tribune

"Preston writes...with breezy wit and insight." —Boston Globe

"A delightful book filled with fascinating stories, anecdotes, and personalities." —Library Journal

Library Journal
New York's American Museum of Natural History, one of the outstanding science museums in the world, contains an extraordinary collection of objects: dinosaur skeletons, human mummies, tiny beetles, birds of paradise, and massive totem poles. Only a tiny fraction of the millions of catalogued specimens is on public view, and Douglas, with a series of judicious choices, takes us on a tour of the great labyrinth of storerooms and vaults that houses the bulk of the collection. Of equal interest are the people who built up and continue to maintain this extraordinary collection. This is a delightful book filled with fascinating stories, anecdotes, and personalities. Highly recommended. Walter P. Coombs, Jr., Biology Dept., Western New Engalnd Coll., Springfield, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312104566
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1993
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 466,225
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Preston

Douglas Preston is the co-author with Lincoln Child of the celebrated Pendergast series of novels, including such best-selling titles as Fever Dream, The Book of the Dead, The Wheel of Darkness, and Relic, which became a number one box office hit movie. His solo novels include the New York Times bestsellers Impact, Blasphemy, The Codex, and Tyrannosaur Canyon. His most recent nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, is being made into a film starring George Clooney. Preston is an expert long-distance horseman, a member of the elite Long Riders Guild, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He has travelled to remote parts of the world as an archaeological correspondent for The New Yorker. He also worked as an editor and writer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and taught nonfiction writing at Princeton University. Preston is the Co-president of International Thriller Writers, and serves on the Governing Council of the Authors Guild.

Biography

Douglas Preston was born in 1956 in Cambridge, MA, was raised in nearby Wellesley (where, by his own admission, he and his brothers were the scourge of the neighborhood!), and graduated from Pomona College in California with a degree in English literature.

Preston's first job was as a writer for the American Museum of Natural History in New York -- an eight year stint that led to the publication of his first book, Dinosaurs in the Attic and introduced him to his future writing partner, Lincoln Child, then working as an editor at St. Martin's Press. The two men bonded, as they worked closely together on the book. As the project neared completion, Preston treated Child to a private midnight tour of the museum, an excursion that proved fateful. As Preston tells it, "...in the darkened Hall of Late Dinosaurs, under a looming T. Rex, Child turned to [me] and said: 'This would make the perfect setting for a thriller!'" Their first collaborative effort, Relic, would not be published until 1995, by which time Preston had picked up stakes and moved to Santa Fe to pursue a full-time writing career.

In addition to writing novels (The Codex, Tyrannosaur Canyon) and nonfiction books on the American Southwest (Cities of Gold, Ribbons of Time), Preston has collaborated with Lincoln Child on several post-Relic thrillers. While not strictly a series, the books share characters and events, and the stories all take place in the same universe. The authors refer to this phenomenon as "The Preston-Child Pangea."

Preston divides his time between New Mexico and Maine, while Child lives in New Jersey -- a situation that necessitates a lot of long-distance communication. But their partnership (facilitated by phone, fax, and email) is remarkably productive and thoroughly egalitarian: They shape their plots through a series of discussions; Child sends an outline of a set of chapters; Preston writes the first draft of those chapters, which is subsequently rewritten by Child; and in this way the novel is edited back and forth until both authors are happy. They attribute the relatively seamless surface of their books to the fact that "[a]ll four hands have found their way into practically every sentence, at one time or another."

In between, Preston remains busy. He is a regular contributor to magazines like National Geographic, The New Yorker, Natural History, Smithsonian, Harper's, and Travel & Leisure, and he continues with varied solo literary projects. Which is not to say his partnership with Lincoln Child is over. Fans of the bestselling Preston-Child thrillers can be assured there are bigger and better adventures to come.

Good To Know

Douglas Preston counts among his ancestors the poet Emily Dickinson, the newspaperman Horace Greeley, and the infamous murderer and opium addict Amasa Greenough.

His brother is Richard Preston, the bestselling author of The Hot Zone, The Cobra Event, The Wild Trees, and other novels and nonfiction narratives.

Preston is an expert horseman and a member of the Long Riders Guild.

He is also a National Geographic Society Fellow, has traveled extensively around the world, and contributes archaeological articles to many magazines.

In our interview, Preston shared some fun and fascinating personal anecdotes.

"My first job was washing dishes in the basement of a nursing home for $2.10 an hour, and I learned as much about the value of hard work there as I ever did later."

"I need to write in a small room -- the smaller the better. I can't write in a big room where someone might sneak up behind my back."

"My hobbies are mountain biking, horseback riding and packing, canoeing and kayaking, hiking, camping, cooking, and skiing."

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Customer Reviews

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