May 31, 2019 4:51 PM - by Andrew D. Blechman - Subscribe

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 today they are reviled as “rats with wings.” Author Andrew D. Blechman 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. Blechman 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, Blechman tells for the first time the remarkable story behind this seemingly unremarkable bird.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (2 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A great book about a great bird. Pigeons are the sort of animal you love or you hate, and this book helps explain both sides. Whether you love eating squab or feeding the birds, this book is for you.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:52 PM on May 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

I read it a few years ago and enjoyed it a lot as a charming account of a bird. I wanted to simultaneously eat pigeons and keep them as pets. I wish he had gone into more about the science of pigeons as I found the ecology and anatomy parts of the book much shorter, but that's me liking animals more than people.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:44 PM on May 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

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