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Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants Paperback – March 24, 2005
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Sullivan found a cobblestone passageway near City Hall called (note the irony) Edens Alley. His fascination for it was founded on the rats' fascination for the provided food, bags of garbage from a market and two restaurants. He spent night after night in the alley, with night-vision glasses and a folding stool. Nights spent there, he spent days doing research, which has lead to some surprising facts; since rats are important to us as pests, there has been a great deal of research done on them, much of it practical and some of it less so. For instance, rats can become immune to poison; even the first anticoagulant medications that were put into bait no longer work in many places, so using them just gives the rats a free meal.Read more ›
But Sullivan's book, peppered with literary quotes from the likes of Thoreau and Emerson, is ultimately less about rats and more about people. The rats are a fascinating hook, and every time a rodent skitters across the page, Sullivan invites us to squirm along with him. But more often, the reader is treated to quirky episodes in American history, in which the rats play some sort of role.
The black plague, the era of Gangs of New York, the American Revolution, the labor movement, and anti-Chinese sentiments at the turn of the century are just some of the subjects of Sullivan's stories, and he tells them all with a master's flair.
The Good and the Bad:
This is one of the best nonfiction books I've ever read, edging out Hillenbrandt's Seabiscuit, and rivaling Kurlansky's Cod and the works of Bill Bryson. Sullivan knows how to tell an interesting story, and he has chosen a subject which rivets our attention no matter how it is presented. Putting the two elements together leads to a lot of compulsive page-turning.Read more ›
As to what you will actually learn about rats, there is very little here. You will learn more by going to Wikipedia, and the writing there is no worse. Many of his "facts" are prefaced by, "According to one study...", "By one estimate...", "One rat expert theorizes...". This might not be too bad if the source of these "facts" were cited but they aren't so there is no way to verify any of the information provided. And when an author is making fairly outrageous claims such as that one-third of the world's food supply is eaten by rats, the reader would like some support other than just the author's word. Also, the author tells us early on that there are only about 400,000 rats in New York but then he interviews an "expert" that he admires who tells us that there are millions of rats living deep under the city who never come to the surface. Is there any support for this? Is it 400,000 or millions? And even when he gets his facts right he gets them wrong.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While waiting for my time slot for a tour of the Museum of the Tenements, in New York's lower East Side, I flicked through their gift store and stumbled on this work of narrative... Read morePublished 12 days ago by orla mcalinden
I enjoyed Sullivan's narrative on a somewhat visceral subject. He brings the rats right up to the nose of the reader in a good way. Read morePublished 3 months ago by A Forest Fan
If you're willing to field questions about why on earth you're reading a book about rats, this is a great read. I loved getting such an atypical view onto the history of NYC. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Annie
taught me about vermin and how to stop them from spreading further.Published 4 months ago by Robert
Such an amazing and interesting book. I was captivated especially since i live in this city.Published 6 months ago by RobDJr
Intriguing, but at times more a history of some of the obscure, forgotten public characters of New York City rather than the rats in the title.Published 8 months ago by Lee H.
I bought this book when it was first published and loved it . Read it straight through and loaned it to a friend. Read morePublished 9 months ago by M. Mueller
I never thought I would LOVE a book on Rats of all things, but I couldn't put this book down. It's grotesque, beautiful, fascinating, and really captures the gamut of human... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Lia Parisyan