Impossible Monsters

Dinosaurs, Darwin, and the Battle Between Science and Religion

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Pub Date Jul 16 2024 | Archive Date Jun 30 2024

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Description

“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.

About the Author: 

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.

“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...


Advance Praise

"As hard as it is to imagine, there was a time when humans had no idea that dinosaurs and other primeval beasts once ruled the world. 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, and loosened the grip of traditional Biblical values on British society. This is a book of surprises and revelations, as Taylor shows how dinosaurs, fossils, and evolution reshaped our views of our own humanity. Scholarly yet accessible, erudite and quirky, this is a most engrossing account of science, history, religion, culture, and yes, dinosaurs, all woven together into an epic tale of how Britain modernized in the 19th century." - Steve Brusatte, New York Times best-selling author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

"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

"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

"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 Pax

"As hard as it is to imagine, there was a time when humans had no idea that dinosaurs and other primeval beasts once ruled the world. In this stunning work of popular history, historian Michael...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781324093923
PRICE $32.99 (USD)
PAGES 416

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