Book Review | The Rise & Fall of the Dinosaurs

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Yes, it’s dinosaur time. This year, I have kind of reverted back to my eight-year-old self: dinosaur and space obsessed. My brain might be better suited for English and history, but my first love has always been science. And yes, I’ve always been a massive nerd, thanks for asking. I’m sure my entire family remembers my slightly morbid obsession with various asteroid sizes and how they’d each kill us in a different way depending where they hit the earth. (I was going to apologize for being off-topic, but then I remembered asteroid diameters are entirely relevant to the unfortunate dinosaurs – the asteroid that killed them was six miles in diameter!) Steve Brusatte’s The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reawakened my inner dinosaur geek, and I have absolutely no regrets.

(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)


(From Goodreads) The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before.

In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatte, a young American paleontologist who has emerged as one of the foremost stars of the field—naming fifteen new species and leading groundbreaking scientific studies and fieldwork—masterfully tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy. Captivating and revelatory, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a book for the ages.

Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers—themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period—into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex,TriceratopsBrontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.”

Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research—which he calls “a new golden age of discovery”—and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China.

An electrifying scientific history that unearths the dinosaurs’ epic saga, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will be a definitive and treasured account for decades to come.


The synopsis is pretty comprehensive, so I’ll keep this short: this book was awesome. Truly. Not only did it present a comprehensive view of the millions of years during which dinosaurs lived (and several million years prior – in which super salamanders ruled the land), Brusatte also covers different species and the major discoveries that changed the way we think of dinosaurs. It was really interesting to see why the t-rex is one of the few dinosaurs that is a household name. You probably also know velociraptors because of Jurassic Park, but the allosaurus was equally terrifying, and the four-winged microraptor is like some sort of mythical bird that actually existed (seriously, Google it).

Personally, I also really enjoyed learning all the names of the dinosaurs and where they come from. Tyrannosaurus rex (a native of North America) is a combination of Greek and Latin that translates to “tyrant lizard king”, which is an interesting contrast to the tyrannosaur discovered in China, guanlong, whose name translates to “crowned dragon”. Brusatte also does an excellent job of describing the appearance and size of these animals, which consistently amazed and terrified me. I think this book made me think of them more as living animals, as opposed to the fossils we see in museums (somehow, more effectively than Jurassic Park), which kind of blew my mind. These things were mind-numbingly massive. and really, really cool.

I thought Brusatte did an excellent job of giving an overview of the dinosaurs as well as the scientists behind all these important discoveries. I never once lost interest. And, as my coworkers can attest, I also didn’t stop talking about dinosaurs.


★★★★★ – I really loved The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs. It is such a good book, well-written, well-organized, and incredibly interesting. I think this is a perfect introduction to dinosaurs, and I’m really glad this was my first adult dinosaur book; I feel like I have a good foundation as I continue reading. (Next up: The Tyrannosaur Chronicles by David Hone.) This book was definitely deserving of the Goodreads Choice Award, and I highly recommend it.

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs available in bookstores now! And it’s currently almost half off on Amazon, so go get it now!

To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose The Rise & Fall of the Dinosaurs as one of your two free books. I absolutely loved the audiobook, and highly recommend it. 

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may get a small commission for purchases made through this post.*

12 thoughts on “Book Review | The Rise & Fall of the Dinosaurs

    1. I can definitely see that. I’ve read my fair share of dry nonfiction books, but I’ve found some really great ones lately. I think audiobooks help, because I tend to listen to half-hour blocks on my commute, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. This one was definitely a lot of fun to listen to!

  1. The subject of this book actually made me randomly think that schools should teach more about dinosaurs. No need to go too in depth, but it would be cool to learn how they evolved among other things. Ah anyway, this sounds like a good book! Dinosaurs is a subject I think I should read up on, so thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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