The Tyrannosaur Chronicles is here!

Well it’s been coming of course but today sees the publication of my first book. I’ve always wanted to write one and now it’s done and I can (sort of) relax. There’s lots of PR stuff ahead and the official book launch tomorrow, but there’s not much to do now except let it go free and hope that most people enjoy it.

I’ve been writing about dinosaurs and palaeo one way or another for nearly 10 years now between various blogs and ventures as well as the odd review paper and book chapter that are for more of a general audience than a typical paper, but this is obviously a much bigger and rather different undertaking. It’s also rather different in that I was writing for something of a different audience (certainly compared to here where I generally assume readers know at least a little anatomy, what a phylogeny is, what the main time periods were etc.) and over a long book you want to introduce quite a few topics and aspects of not just tyrannosaurs, but also their contemporaries and major issues like behaviour, anatomy, local environments, extinction and more. It turned out to be a lot to cover and while trying to keep it interesting for the reader.

Hopefully, I’ve managed that but it is nervy letting this out into the wider world with little control over it. That may sound odd given how much I’ve written online, but with a blog (either here, on Pterosaur.net or on the Guardian) you have a fair idea of who your audience is likely to be, and people will soon leave if they don’t like it. Getting someone to pick up and be immediately drawn to, and then stick with, a whole tome is rather different so obviously I am nervous and curious as to how it goes from here.

The book is very much in the popular science mould and so while I would hope even some academics and researchers would get something from it and enjoy it, really it is aimed squarely at the general public and those with little or no knowledge of dinosaurs or paleontology and even biology in general. As a result, despite the fact that the book is around 85 000 words long, it really doesn’t delve into the tiny details of but tries to cover a broad spectrum of tyrannosaur origins, evolution and their biology. Given my interests there’s quite a lot on ecology and behaviour and there’s a few bits of informed speculation or suggestions that I hope are novel and interesting, but also clearly flagged as such.

It was a huge effort to write all of this while keeping up with a full time academic job and try and keep my other blogs ticking over, and it was also important to try and update things. The last few years have seen a near endless stream of new tyrannosaurs being named and some parts of the book I changed a half dozen times to reflect the addition of new species, and with the book going to print in February, it’s inevitably already out of date thanks to the most recent addition to the ranks of this clade, despite my efforts. Still, I have tried to make this a modern take on tyrannosaurs and I hope I have managed to overcome a few of the more persistent anachronisms and misconceptions about these animals. Anyway, enough of the (brilliant) text and its (brilliant) author, and time to talk about some other aspects of the book and to give a minimal amount of credit to other people.

The book is illustrated by Scott Hartman and there’s around a dozen figures of his scattered through the book, with lots of skeletals (especially of tyrannosaurs, but also various other dinosaurs too) and other little bits, a number of which were done especially for the book, but will be popping up on his website if they haven’t already. I’m obviously especially grateful to Scott for finding the time to do these and putting so much time and effort into them, the book benefits enormously from it.

There is also a colour section in the middle with numerous photos of various specimens and some reconstructions. Plenty of these have been in print in various places before but there are some novel shots and views of various things and I’ve been blessed with the generous assistance of numerous colleagues and friends who have sent in pictures and allowed me to use them. While I’m on the subject therefore I must thank Peter Falkingham, Jordan Mallon, Larry Witmer, Xu Xing, Lu Junchang and Phil Currie for providing various images and also the Royal Tyrrell, LACM, IVPP, Hayashibara, Mongolia Palaeontological, Royal Sasketchewan, Carnegie and New Mexico Museums, and also Don Brinkman, Mark Loewen and Matt Lamanna for helping me negotiate to get a couple of the images. Finally I must also thank Darren Tanke and Chisaka Sakata for the photos of me that are on the covers of the paper- and hardbacks respectively.

Finally with regard to the text I had a series of editors and assistants at Bloomsbury though most especially I want to thank Jim Martin for commissioning the damned thing in the first place and also in particular for supporting my campaign for the colour scheme of the cover. Several friends of mine including Marc Vincent (yes, that one) read through an early draft for me and provided useful feedback and special mention goes to Tom Holtz for reading through it looking for errors (and mercifully he found only one, so I’m happy to blame him for any others that slipped through). A whole host of other friends, collaborators, coauthors and colleagues are thanked in the acknowledgements for sharing their knowledge of tyrannosaurs with me over the years and I hope this book helps do justice to these amazing animals.

Well, the book is out now (actually I’ve had reports of it being on sale since Monday) and while I’ve always wanted to say it’s available in all good bookshops actually I have no idea. It is available online (including direct from the publishers Bloomsbury) and it’s in at least a few physical places. I know it’s available in hardback (paperback coming next year) and e-book versions and there’s an audio version coming via Audible, and hopefully a few translations too. The US have to wait till early June, but not long for you to wait and in the meantime you can enjoy me talking about the book here. Hopefully many people will find it one way or another (such as in charity shops for £2 in a few weeks) but more importantly I do hope people enjoy it. Happy reading.

10 Responses to “The Tyrannosaur Chronicles is here!”


  1. 1 Garry Paton 21/04/2016 at 9:19 am

    Well done! Already ordered on Amazon, looking forward to reading it.

  2. 3 ceratopsian 21/04/2016 at 10:02 am

    Mine was delivered just now. Also looking forward to reading it – and going to the launch tomorrow!

  3. 4 taichara 21/04/2016 at 4:43 pm

    Apparently here in Canada we’re having to wait til the first week in July. Curses! I need to learn patience ;3

  4. 5 Herman Diaz 21/04/2016 at 8:02 pm

    “It’s also rather different in that I was writing for something of a different audience (certainly compared to here where I generally assume readers know at least a little anatomy, what a phylogeny is, what the main time periods were etc.)…The book is very much in the popular science mould and so while I would hope even some academics and researchers would get something from it and enjoy it, really it is aimed squarely at the general public and those with little or no knowledge of dinosaurs or paleontology and even biology in general.”

    Does that mean that this book is more for “Casual Readers” than “the Enthusiast” ( http://whenpigsfly-returns.blogspot.com/2008/04/paleo-reading-list.html )? I might’ve already asked, but wanted to make sure b/c I’m gonna mention this book in a future journal entry/blog post. Many thanks in advance.

    • 6 David Hone 22/04/2016 at 9:39 am

      I tried to write a book for everyone. Whether or not I did is another matter. I’d like to think anyone with an interest in science will enjoy it, but obviously those with an interest in dinosaurs coming in are probably going to get more / be more involved.

      • 7 donnie86dc 25/04/2016 at 9:02 pm

        Oh, great! This is exactly what I wanted to read! I feared the book would be too difficult for the ‘layman’. Fortunately, it won’t! I have already tried to purchase it from Amazon, but I live in Italy and it seems I have to wait some weeks: the book is not available yet.
        Can’t wait to have it, though.

  5. 8 Steven Spence 21/04/2016 at 8:58 pm

    Dave: we worked with Bloomsbury and got an advance copy. Congratulations to you, Scott, and the Bloomsbury team.
    I enjoyed reading it, but I’m not sure how the general public will view it, which is why I put an “enthusiast” label on it for our web audience.
    http://www.gotscience.org/2016/04/book-review-tyrannosaur-chronicles/
    -Steven

  6. 9 gcl1ck 29/04/2016 at 5:29 pm

    I received mine on Monday and I am very much enjoying it. I am certainly not an expert in the field, but follow paleo-blogs for several years now and would regard myself as informed layperson.

    You do a very good job in “drawing a picture” of these animals. Your book is pretty densely written, with a lot of understandable, easy to digest information, and I think people with interest into science topics, but little or no deeper knowledge on dinosaurs, will find it very useful.

    I also like the approach that the animals are presented in the bigger context of their ecosystems, not solely on anatomical superlatives. Same applies for hypotheses on their behaviour, which often seem very plausible by themselves, until put into context and compared to living animals.

    However I am not sure, how much it can captivate a really broad audience, like, lets say, the typical audience of dinosaur-CGI-docus on the Discovery-Channel, but I don’t think that should be it’s target audience.

    Anyway. Your book offers a lot, is very well and balanced written and definitely recommendable!


  1. 1 Whewell’s Gazette: Year 2, Vol. #37 | Whewell's Ghost Trackback on 27/04/2016 at 6:02 pm
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