Time Traveler: In Search of Dinosaurs and Other Fossils from Montana to Mongolia - Michael Novacek
This makes a nice addition to the literature of field paleontology. Novacek certainly has good stories to tell, since the search for vertebrate fossils took him to some of the most barren deserts and mountains on Earth, whose spectacular beauty he describes (I was particularly taken with the mental images of Patagonia and the Chilean Andes -- what a country). He also has a pretty good knack for telling of the human encounters on these trips, whether it be hospitable residents everywhere or the repeated encounters with threatening armed men in Yemen. Naturally, the desert encampments brought plentiful discomforts and occasional dangers. This is adventure with a capital A, and as Novacek points out, paleontologists nowadays have one of the few compelling reasons that remain for adventuring -- he unfavorably compares the contrived feat of sportsmen who try to cross the Gobi on a motorcycle just because.

The second aspect of this book, which is written in the form of an autobiography from boyhood on, is for Novacek to try to convey what field paleontology offers him, why he does it. He does indeed create a very good picture of what's involved in doing that sort of work; however, he says almost nothing about the other aspects of his job, the studying and publishing specimens he finds, and what his duties as curator at the AMNH might involve. True, he indicates that he is fascinated by what the fossils tell us about ancient life, and does include a lot of such information; although he presents some reasoning as to how they reached these conclusions, he goes lightly over the methods of study. It's inevitable, I guess -- lab work and measuring and such just aren't as entertaining as tales from the field.

Novacek is not really a great writer, and sometimes trips himself up by straining for effect and missing the mark, but on the whole this is well-told, clear, and very engaging.