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The Dinosaur Artist


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About the Author

Paige Williams is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a Mississippi native. A National Magazine Award winner for feature writing, she has had her journalism anthologized in various volumes of the Best American series, including The Best American Magazine Writing and The Best American Crime Writing. She is the Laventhol/Newsday Visiting Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, and has taught at schools including the University of Mississippi, New York University, the Missouri School of Journalism, and, at M.I.T., in the Knight Science Journalism program. Williams has been a fellow of The MacDowell Colony and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. At The New Yorker, she has written about suburban politics in Detroit, the death penalty in Alabama, paleoanthropology in South Africa, and the theft of cultural palimony from the Tlingit peoples of Alaska.


`The Dinosaur Artist is a tale that has everything: passion, science, politics, intrigue, and, of course, dinosaurs. Paige Williams is a wonderful storyteller.'

-- Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction

`The Dinosaur Artist is a breathtaking feat of writing and reporting: a strange, irresistible, and beautifully written story steeped in natural history, human nature, commerce, crime, science, and politics. It's at once laugh-out-loud funny and deeply sobering. I was blown away by the depth of its characters, its vivid details, and Paige Williams' incredible command of the facts. Bottom line: this is an extraordinary debut by one of the best nonfiction writers we've got.'

-- Rebecca Skloot, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

`What a terrific book. A fascinating story of adventure and obsession, and a captivating journey into the world of fossils and fossil peddlers, scientists, museums, international politics, the history of life, and the nature of human nature. Williams writes beautifully about it all. If you love dinosaurs, paleontology, or just a rollicking good tale, you will love this book. I couldn't put it down.'

-- Jennifer Ackerman, New York Times bestselling author of The Genius of Birds

`A cracking combination of true crime, dinosaurs, and top-notch investigative journalism. Paige Williams' riveting tale exposes the dodgy dealings of the black market trade in dinosaurs, an international underworld that that few people have probably heard of, and which breaks my heart as a paleontologist.'

-- Steve Brusatte, bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

`Paige Williams is that rare reporter who burrows into a subject until all of its dimensions, all of its darkened corners and secret chambers, are illuminated. With The Dinosaur Artist, she has done more than reveal a gripping true crime story; she has cast light on everything from obsessive fossil hunters to how the earth evolved. This is a tremendous book.'

-- David Grann, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon

`The Dinosaur Artist is a triumph. With peerless prose and sharp-eyed reporting, Paige Williams weaves a story that, even as it spans continents and transcends geological epochs, is deeply anchored in the passion and hubris of a rich cast of characters. Captivating, funny, and profound, it is easily one of the strongest works of non-fiction in years.'

-- Ed Yong, staff writer, The Atlantic; New York Times bestselling author of I Contain Multitudes

`Paige Williams is as deft as the fossil hunters and skeleton builders she writes about. As they exhume treasures secreted in earthen repositories and assemble brilliant mounts from a scattering of dinosaur bones, she mines exquisite details from a quarry of source materials and pieces together a compelling story out of a spillage of human experience. The result is a work of art.'

-- Jack E. Davis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Gulf

`I am in awe of Paige Williams. Every line of The Dinosaur Artist - from her deeply informed discussions of paleontology and the law to her often withering and hilarious descriptions - was a pleasure to read. Few nonfiction writers are capable of mining their characters with such a winning blend of sympathy, wonder, and rigour.'

-- Liza Mundy, New York Times bestselling author of Michelle and Code Girls

`Williams' illuminating chronicle questions who has a right to nature.'

* Booklist *

`Prokopi's case is a fascinating example of the pull of prehistoric fossils and the power of law. Nature enthusiasts, scientists, and politics buffs will sink their teeth into this intriguing account.'

-- Jeffrey Meyer * Library Journal *

`New Yorker staff writer Williams uses the story of fossil enthusiast Eric Prokopi to illuminate the murky world of modern fossil hunting in this fascinating account ... a triumphant book that will appeal to a wide audience.'

* Publishers Weekly *

`A palaeontological page-turner ... Williams has written a masterful book of suspense and true-crime that is as fair in the portrayal of its protagonists, as it is thorough in the context in which the story is situated.'

* The Inquisitive Biologist *

`Ms. Williams's writing is often concise and evocative ... gripping and cinematic.'

-- Richard Conniff * The Wall Street Journal *

`An intriguing story of dinosaur smuggling ... Good fun for fossil freaks.'

* Kirkus *

`Williams's painstakingly detailed reporting reminds us that events like these are far more complicated than they might seem, and if we want the commercial fossil trade to be anything other than what it currently is, we must understand the intricate pushes and pulls of the industry ... this is where The Dinosaur Artist excels ... details and characters bring home the fact that the challenge of combating fossil smuggling and reforming the trade is truly daunting.'

-- Lydia Pyne * The Los Angeles Review of Books *

`The strange underground world Prokopi inhabits inevitably brings us in contact with some serious oddballs, each of whom is introduced by Williams with the economy and evocative precision of a haiku. In affectless, purposeful prose we get a stream of increasingly strange and piquant factoids about these people, who seem to emerge straight out of a Coen brothers movie.'

-- Peter Brannen * The New York Times Book Review *

`An ambitious and worthy addition to the natural history and science-writing canon, and also to national cultural heritage literature.'

-- Julia Jackson * Readings *

`Williams uses the story of Prokopi to dig into the muddy world of fossil collectors, dealers and sellers. It's a world where underfunded museums compete with wealthy film stars to buy the most valuable skeletons, and only expert palaeontologists can identify bones that can be easily smuggled from a country where they are protected to a country where they can be sold freely. It's a fascinating journey to the centre of the modern Jurassic world.'

* Herald Sun *

`New Yorker writer Paige Williams assembles the story as meticulously as a palaeontologist and the result is fascinating, taking in the tales of the protagonists, the tussles between science and commercial fossil hunters and the history of the science itself ... A superior piece of investigative writing.'

* Sydney Morning Herald *

`A timely caution on the perils of buried treasure.'

-- Robyn Douglas * Adelaide Advertiser *

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