Impossible Monsters: Dinosaurs, Darwin, and the Battle Between Science and Religion (Hardcover)

Impossible Monsters: Dinosaurs, Darwin, and the Battle Between Science and Religion By Michael Taylor Cover Image

Impossible Monsters: Dinosaurs, Darwin, and the Battle Between Science and Religion (Hardcover)


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“Vivid with a Mesozoic bestiary” (Tom Holland), this on-the-ground, page-turning narrative weaves together the chance discovery of dinosaurs and the rise of the secular age.

When the twelve-year-old daughter of a British carpenter pulled some strange-looking bones from the country’s southern shoreline in 1811, few people dared to question that the Bible told the accurate history of the world. But Mary Anning had in fact discovered the “first” ichthyosaur, and over the next seventy-five years—as the science of paleontology developed, as Charles Darwin posited radical new theories of evolutionary biology, and as scholars began to identify the internal inconsistencies of the Scriptures—everything changed. Beginning with the archbishop who dated the creation of the world to 6 p.m. on October 22, 4004 BC, and told through the lives of the nineteenth-century men and women who found and argued about these seemingly impossible, history-rewriting fossils, Impossible Monsters reveals the central role of dinosaurs and their discovery in toppling traditional religious authority, and in changing perceptions about the Bible, history, and mankind’s place in the world.

Michael Taylor is a historian of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. His first book, The Interest, was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing.
Product Details ISBN: 9781324093923
ISBN-10: 1324093927
Publisher: Liveright
Publication Date: July 16th, 2024
Pages: 496
Language: English
[Impossible Monsters is] a remarkable look at how sweeping social changes can come from strange and small beginnings. Anyone who thinks that the culture wars of contemporary times are being fought with unprecedented ferocity should take a look at this book. . . . Taylor ably conveys the ferment of the time, and he does so with respect to all concerned. This is an intriguing and accessible book, featuring many useful insights into how one age ended and another began. . . . With careful research, Taylor unravels how the discovery of the past pointed the way toward a new future.

— Kirkus Reviews

In this stunning work of popular history, historian Michael Taylor shows how the discovery of dinosaurs triggered a domino effect that shook the foundations of Western culture. A most engrossing book of surprises and revelations.
— Steve Brusatte, New York Times best-selling author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

An account of the discovery of deep time that is as thrilling as it is sweeping, populated by a brilliantly drawn cast of characters, and vivid with a Mesozoic bestiary.
— Tom Holland, best-selling author of Paxand Dominion

An astonishing book about an extraordinary subject. Michael Taylor tells the story of the collision of science and religion in an age of change with authority, wit and verve. A delight.
— Peter Frankopan, best-selling author of The Earth Transformed

This book confirms what I've suspected for a while, that Michael Taylor is the most talented young historian around. This book dazzles in its originality and there is something you want to commit to memory on every page. A triumph.
— Sathnam Sanghera, author of Empireland

Amazing. . . . Taylor paints the complex picture of the fundamental tension between religion and geology through the nineteenth century with verve and humor. . . . An important story that still affects us today.
— Michael Benton

A truly marvelous book: superb research and a sparkling narrative dramatize an epic battle of ideas and an intellectual thriller. Michael Taylor succeeds in reanimating those famous dinosaur wars of the nineteenth century with real brilliance, and makes them as fresh and furious as ever. Exuberant, stylish and brilliantly sustained throughout.
— Richard Holmes, best-selling author of The Age of Wonder

A sweeping account of the discovery of dinosaurs and the horrifying depths of time, and their impact on god-fearing Victorians. Taylor marches us with panache from Bishop Ussher's impossibly young world to today's incomprehensibly old planet. We feel the awe and fright across society as the vast reptilian empires are brought to light.
— Adrian Desmond, author of Darwin's Sacred Cause