Pigeons have been worshipped as fertility goddesses and used as symbols of peace. Domesticated since the dawn of man, theyve 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 upon 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 mankinds 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 pigeons transformation from beloved friend to feathered outlaw. Pigeons captures a Brooklyn mans quest to win the Main Event (the pigeon worlds 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 nations most famous pigeon lover, and spends time with Queen Elizabeths Royal Pigeon Handler in England; 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.
Blechman is at his strongest when relating stories of pigeon prowess in wartime; another high point is the chapter that elaborates on the methods used by cities to control pigeon populations, humanely or otherwise. However, from time to time the level of detail he brings into his first person reporting (which forms the majority of the book) can be a little wearisome. Putting that aside, this is an entertaining read and a must for pigeon aficionados. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The New York Times - William Grimes
Admittedly, the bird is a hard sell, but in Pigeons, an amiable, mildly engaging tour of the species and its fans, Andrew D. Blechman does his level best to inspire respect, perhaps even affection, for "a scruffy-looking bird with a brain the size of a lima bean."
Booklist - Nancy Bent
Readers will never look at their cities' pigeons the same way again.
Blechman's book won't convert pigeon haters to pigeon lovers, it does make for entertaining reading.
Blechman's light, self-deprecating style belies the book's serious content.... Photos are sorely lacking, and there is no list of the author's print sources. Still, an enjoyable read
Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and The Madman
Few of us who live in cities, besieged by flights of what we like to call winged rats, can rightly be described as philoperisterons. But King George the Fifth of England was. So was Charles Darwin. Julius Reuter was too, though for purely commercial reasons. And so also, and for which we should all be thankful, is Andrew Blechman, writer. Mr. Blechman positively loves pigeons-but as graceful and ancient grey doves, not as either targets or as food. In this breezy, quirky, endlessly entertaining book, he tells us just why-and explains why philoperisteronicism is, generally speaking, a Good Thing.
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