Summary and book reviews of Pigeons by Andrew Blechman

Pigeons

The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird

by Andrew D. Blechman

Pigeons by Andrew D. Blechman X
Pigeons by Andrew D. Blechman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2006, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2007, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

In the tradition of Robert Sullivan’s best-selling Rats comes a whimsical and intimate look into the fascinating world of pigeons and the people they collect.

Pigeons have been worshipped as fertility goddesses and used 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 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 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, and spends time with Queen Elizabeth’s 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.

Introduction: Pigeonholed

Some days you’re the pigeon. Some days you’re the statue.  - Anonymous


For much of my life, I didn’t have a strong opinion about pigeons. At best, I found their incessant bobbing and waddling mildly charming to watch as I walked through the streets of New York City. It was my college girlfriend who first alerted me to their nefarious lack of hygiene. They may look harmless, she informed me, but they’re actually insidious carriers of hidden filth - “rats with wings” - that eat garbage off the streets and crap in their own nests.

Lamenting the city’s lack of wildlife, I hung a bird feeder from the fire escape outside my barred windows in an effort to attract songbirds to my apartment. The feeder didn’t attract robins or cardinals, but it was popular with pigeons. They flocked to my fire escape, landing in friendly, cooing clusters. They were animated, fun to watch, and they kept me company as I ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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).

Full Review (841 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.

Media Reviews

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.

Publishers Weekly
Blechman's book won't convert pigeon haters to pigeon lovers, it does make for entertaining reading.

Library Journal
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

Author Blurb 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.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Did you know?

  • Pigeons and doves are one and the same thing, "pigeon" is simply a French translation of the English word "dove".
  • Pigeons have been domesticated for at least 5,000 years, probably closer to 10,000.
  • It is said that a pigeon ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Pigeons, try these:

  • The Atomic Weight of Love jacket

    The Atomic Weight of Love

    by Elizabeth Church

    Published 2017

    About this book

    In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife and Loving Frank, this resonant debut spans the years from World War II through the Vietnam War to tell the story of a woman whose scientific ambition is caught up in her relationships with two very different men.

  • Garbage Land jacket

    Garbage Land

    by Elizabeth Royte

    Published 2006

    About this book

    More books by this author

    A brilliant exploration into the soiled heart of the American trash can.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Winter Soldier
    The Winter Soldier
    by Daniel Mason
    Imagine the thousands of confounding cases doctors face routinely for which diagnoses are hard to ...
  • Book Jacket: Brother
    Brother
    by David Chariandy
    Brother is the brief, moving account of how a single, tragic moment in time can alter the course of ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Islamic Enlightenment
    by Christopher de Bellaigue
    In this comprehensive and well-researched history, de Bellaigue examines the evolution of Islamic ...
  • Book Jacket: The Spy of Venice
    The Spy of Venice
    by Benet Brandreth
    Benet Brandreth's delightfully diverting historical thriller brings the Bard to vibrant life. ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Removes by Tatjana Soli

A powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Sold on a Monday
    by Kristina McMorris

    An unforgettable novel inspired by a stunning piece of history.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House. On sale Oct 9.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T Turn T S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.