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“[Blechman’s] playful exploration of what some city-dwellers refer to as ‘rats with wings’ takes him to some surprising places . . . [and] along the way, he meets a colorful array of pigeon haters, hobbyists, and saviors. . . The book brims with trivia about the importance of pigeons throughout historyas wartime messengers and news distributors, among other roles. It’s almost enough to make you want to go to a park and feed them.” Nora Krug, The Washington Post
The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird
978-0-8021-4328-0 • $14.00 • Paperback • Oct. 2007
“Consider the pigeon. Rather not? Well, reconsider, and do yourself a favor by reading Blechman’s charming book. . . . Blechman wittily traces the history of this gentle, intelligent, misunderstood bird . . . and journeys into its obsessive subcultures.” Matthew Price, The New York Times Book Review
Hailed by critics and readers, Andrew Blechman’s fascinating exploration of the lowly pigeon is set to reach a wider audience in paperback.
Pigeons have been worshipped as fertility goddesses and revered as symbols of peace. Domesticated since the dawn of man, they’ve 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. Charles Darwin relied heavily on pigeons to help formulate and support his theory of evolution. Yet, without just cause, they are reviled today as “rats of the sky.” How did we come to misunderstand one of mankind’s most helpful and steadfast companions?
Author Andrew D. Blechman traveled across the United States and Europe to meet with pigeon fanciers and pigeon haters in a quest to chronicle the pigeon’s transformation from beloved friend to feathered outlaw. 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 pigeon breeders convention dedicated to breeding the perfect bird. Blechman participates in a pigeon shoot where entrants pay $150 to shoot live pigeons; 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, Blechman tells for the first time the remarkable story behind this seemingly unremarkable bird.