A “quirky, endlessly entertaining” look at the surprising history of the pigeon (Simon Winchester).
Domesticated since the dawn of man, pigeons have been used as crucial communicators in war by every major historical superpower from ancient Egypt to the United States and are credited with saving thousands of lives. They have been worshipped as fertility goddesses and revered as symbols of peace. Charles Darwin relied heavily on pigeons to help formulate and support his theory of evolution. Yet today they are reviled as “rats with wings.”
To research this lively history of the humble pigeon, the author traveled across the United States and Europe to meet with pigeon fanciers and pigeon haters in a quest to find out how we came to misunderstand one of mankind’s most helpful and steadfast companions. Pigeons captures a Brooklyn man’s quest to win the Main Event (the pigeon world’s equivalent of the Kentucky Derby), as well as a convention dedicated to breeding the perfect bird. The author participates in a live pigeon shoot where entrants pay $150; he tracks down Mike Tyson, the nation’s most famous pigeon lover; he spends time with Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Pigeon Handler; and he sheds light on a radical “pro-pigeon underground” in New York City. In Pigeons, Andrew D. Blechman reveals for the first time the remarkable story behind this seemingly unremarkable bird.
“A quick and thoroughly entertaining read, Pigeons will leave readers chuckling at the quirky characters and pondering surprising pigeon facts.” —Audubon Magazine
“Manages to illuminate not merely the ostensible subject of the book, but also something of the endearing, repellent, heroic, and dastardly nature of that most bizarre of breeds, Homo sapiens.” —Salon.com