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Impossible Monsters

Dinosaurs, Darwin and the War Between Science and Religion

«Excellent . . . Everything that popular scholarly history should be . . . written with clarity, zest, and wit»

Piers Brendon, LIterary Review
Sendes innen 7 virkedager


The Bodley Head Ltd
24 x 16 cm


«Excellent . . . Everything that popular scholarly history should be . . . written with clarity, zest, and wit»

Piers Brendon, LIterary Review

«Impossible Monsters captivatingly outlines how the unearthing of strange bones toppled traditional understanding of the origins of the world . . . rather miraculous»

Roger Lewis, Telegraph ****

«Marvellous . . . Impossible Monsters is a work of remarkable range. Taylor . . . belongs to that rare class of writers who can effortlessly encompass both scientific arcana and intellectual currents. It is also to his credit that he every so often takes us away from the high tables to show us what ordinary people made of these huge strides in thinking»

Pratinav Anil, Guardian

«Well-paced . . . fascinating . . . And it has a charming leitmotif, namely, the periodic discovery of yet another dinosaur, each seemingly larger and more monstrous than the last . . . Taylor movingly tells us of the agony inflicted by scientific discovery on the “honest doubters”»

A N Wilson, The Times

«Eminently readable and well-researched . . . He writes well, knows his subject and has a fine eye for detail»


«Such an attractive book . . . a sympathetic, charming, beautifully written guide through a pivotal part of history»

John van Whye, BBC History Magazine

«In writing Impossible Monsters, the task of Michael Taylor . . . was to tell a much-told tale better than it had been told before. He has succeeded splendidly . . . Mr Taylor also conveys a sense of just how risky it was to believe in and promulgate the new ideas tied to the rocks and tropical forests where people hunted for specimens»


«Skilfully blends an impressive array of sources into a highly readable, almost novelistic narrative. In particular, it features many women who played crucial roles but are too often invisible . . . Including gripping tales as well as serious commentary, Impossible Monsters chips out a fascinating slice through the strata of Victorian society»

History Today

«The emotional impact on the Victorians . . . was profound . . . Taylor recounts not just the interventions of palaeontologists and geologists but also those stricken by events as their faith evaporated . . . he marshals his cast expertly and shows lucidly why it mattered so much»

New Statesman

«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 SANGERA, author of Empireworld

«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, author of The Earth Transformed

«A truly marvellous 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 19th century with real brilliance, and makes them as fresh and furious as ever. Exuberant, stylish and brilliantly sustained throughout»

RICHARD HOLMES, author of The Age of Wonder

«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, author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

«Tremendously entertaining. Michael Taylor brings to splendid life the scandal and skulduggery that ensued as Victorian society came to terms with the existence of the shockingly unbiblical dinosaurs»

CATHERINE FLETCHER, author of The Beauty and the Terror

«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»


«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

«Brilliant, entertaining, noteworthy»

BEN MILLER, actor and comedian

«Eloquent and authoritative, we're shown how the discoveries of ancient reptiles shook the very foundations of conservative nineteenth-century Britain»

PAUL BARRETT, Natural History Museum

«An extraordinary and important tale of a seismic moment in intellectual history. Epic in scale yet intimate in detail, Taylor’s Impossible Monsters is a masterclass in combining peerless erudition with superb storytelling»

MATTHEW PARKER, author of One Fine Day

«Amazing ... Taylor paints the complex picture of the fundamental tension between religion and geology through the nineteenth century with verve and humour ... An important story that still affects us today»

MICHAEL BENTON, author of The Dinosaurs Rediscovered

«Taylor’s . . . lively prose make[s] for an extremely enjoyable excursion into a world where impossible monsters emerged from beneath the ground and forced us to rethink all our beliefs about the origins of our planet»

Times Literary Supplement

«The tale of how evolution became a dominant paradigm is rousing . . . Taylor’s book breathes new life into its dons and explorers. The writing is crisp, the handling of the scholarship graceful and precise»

The Critic

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