Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered And Reviled Bird (英語) ハードカバー – 2006/10/28
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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." --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
Could be a chef, a pigeon racer, a breeder, someone who despises the bird, and so on. They're all here and the Blechman tells each story with a lightly humorous manner all the while remaining factual.
Author Andrew Blechman has gone to great pains to cover seemingly every facet of the pigeon: racing, hunting, military service, beauty shows, breeding, pigeon mythology and pigeon eradication. Along the way we meet Charles Darwin, B.F. Skinner, Ernest Hemingway, Woody Allen, Paris Hilton, Mike Tyson (well, almost) and a type of pigeon called Naked Neck, which originated in Transylvania and through some mutation possesses no feathers between its chin and breastbone.
One thing is clear here; though ordinary city-dwelling pigeons are mainly gray in color, there are no gray areas when it comes to the perception of these critters, viewed both as "rats with wings" and goddesses, and little in between. When Blechman discusses pigeon racing, I am reminded of children's beauty pageants and the sexually repressed collectors in "Orchid Thief;" cheating, obsession and murderous intentions saturate all three activities. Pigeon racing might be no more bizarre than dressing your 5-year-old like a Vegas showgirl, but it's the only undertaking in which the subject is, to borrow the book's phrasing, so reviled by those not involved, yet so revered by its participants -- even at the expense of healthy human relations. It's akin to conducting a bedbug bed-bleeding contest. What makes it even stranger is we find that the dove of peace used to mark weddings, or messenger doves credited with saving a number of American soldiers' lives during World War II, is basically the same as a sweatsock pigeon pecking at a burrito wrapper while hopping on its remaining leg in a puddle of urine somewhere downtown right now.
From pigeon racing to pigeon shooting and yes, to pigeon eating, Blechman has assembled a composite history of these birds and one would have to agree that the emotional response to "rock doves" runs the gamut from total love to downright loathing. I can't think of another animal that elicits such a range of reactions.
Early on in "Pigeons" the reader is introduced to Orlando Martinez, a New York pigeon racer consumed by his loyalty to his birds. Orlando appears throughout the book, right to the bitter exciting end where a race in his progress. Along the way the author takes his own half-hearted hand in a pigeon shoot, describes the many ways pigeons are prevented from roosting, tells of the demise of the once prodigious passenger pigeon and even entices us as to why squab (baby pigeon) tastes so good. The most intriguing chapter is one pertaining to the "inner clocks" of homing pigeons (or "homers"). Their navigation system is still not completely understood but Blechman does a good job in peeling away the layers of its mystery. There is no doubt of the author's growing reverence for the birds and because of it, he tweaks our own appreciation of them.
I had wished to see some photos or illustrations of some of the many types of pigeons author Blechman so colorfully describes and one chapter about his trying to track down Mike Tyson, (who apparently is a pigeon fanatic) lacks a necessary cohesion with the rest of the book. These small comments aside, "Pigeons" is a terrifically warm book, narrated with great style and substance. I highly recommend this enjoyable read. You'll never look at pigeons again in quite the same way.
This book discusses everything from pigeon extermination to the 'glamorous' world of show pigeons and everywhere in between. Pigeons have been an integral part of our evolution as humans, providing us sustenance, avenues of communication, sport, and a myriad of hobbies. I don't know that I'll be putting a dovecote in my backyard any time soon, but I no longer go out of my way to avoid these amazing little birds that get a (mostly) unfair rep.