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Book Review: ‘The Bone War of McCurtain County’ by Russell Ferrell

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TheBoneWarThe Bone War of McCurtain County is the true story of two men, Cephis Hall and Sid Love, amateur naturalists who discover and excavate a rare dinosaur specimen along the Mountain Fork River located in southeastern Oklahoma.  The land on which the specimen was found is owned Weyerhaeuser, a giant international forest products corporation.  Cephis and Sid had an agreement with Weyerhaeuser and were given the rights to dig in the area, as Weyerhaeuser was not interested in any of the fossils that might be found.  They later defaulted on the agreement, however, when they learned the value of the rare find.  Cephis and Sid wound up in a major battle for ownership rights to the treasure, a battle in which the odds were not in their favor.

Let me start off by saying that I was excited to have the opportunity to read and review this title. I love stories about the “little guy” versus the “big guns” and the fact that this is a true story intrigued me even more.

It is apparent that an extensive amount of research and preparation was conducted and obvious that many, many hours were poured into this project.  A few things slowed down the reading and enjoyment value of the story for me personally.  The author placed a large focus on the history and connotation of the terms “hillbilly” and “Okie” and “Arkie.”  I say a large focus because I was still reading about it in Chapter Four.  For me personally, that made it hard to get into the book as I felt it made for a very slow start to the story.

A big part of the story included history and education, including a detailed accounting about dinosaurs, their time on Earth, and their progression into distinction.  The author had a unique way of tying these informative pages back to the main characters by writing the data as if the characters were thinking it to themselves.   While I didn’t mind the education, for I certainly learned a lot and it provided good background information relative to the story, I often felt myself wishing to get back to the “main story” about the Cephis and Sid and the excavation and subsequent battle, which I found fascinating and truly a page turner.

Overall, The Bone War of McCurtain County  is a remarkable, action-packed, true life adventure that I highly recommend.  Whether your interest is paleontology, history or a truly amazing battle of ethical and bureaucratic proportions, this story has something for everyone.

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