Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Non-Fiction

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Non-Fiction

Article excerpt

Title: Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions

Author: Charles Gallenkamp

Data: Viking, 344 pages, $29.95

Review by Tom Szaroleta

A dashing archaeologist/explorer/adventurer with a penchant for fedoras and an irrational fear of snakes. Hmm, somebody ought to make a movie about this guy.

Although Steven Spielberg and George Lucas may deny it, Roy Chapman Andrews was clearly the model for their Indiana Jones character. Andrews was the charismatic leader of a series of expeditions into Mongolia and China in the 1920s and '30s that turned up thousands of fossilized dinosaur bones and identified scores of new species (including the velociraptor, star of Spielberg's Jurrasic Park films).

Acting under the auspices of New York's famed American Museum of Natural History, Andrews led five expeditions into the Mongolian wastelands, battling sandstorms, bandits, vipers, blizzards, warlords and politicians in his quest to uncover the region's rich archaeological past. Along the way, he became one of the most celebrated men in America and one of New York's leading socialites.

Gallenkamp's book is meticulously researched, with maps, photos and drawings of many of the unlikely creatures Andrews uncovered.

But the book is also too respectful of Andrews' legacy. Andrews spent as much time battling Chinese bureaucrats to ship his findings to New York as he did in the field actually digging up bones. He wasn't above pressuring Chinese cultural officials or resorting to a little bribery to get his way and ship to New York the artifacts that, by all rights, should have belonged to the Chinese and Mongolian people.

Andrews was a fascinating character, though, relentless in pursuit of his goals, and Dragon Hunter offers an interesting look at the man and his struggles. …

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