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Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants
by Robert Sullivan

Published: 2005-04-11
Paperback : 256 pages
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The New York Times bestseller, now available in paperback with an all-new afterword by the author.

Love them or loathe them, rats are here to stay?they are city dwellers as much as (or more than) we are, surviving on the effluvia of our society. In Rats, the critically acclaimed ...

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(The New York Times bestseller, now available in paperback with an all-new afterword by the author.

Love them or loathe them, rats are here to stay?they are city dwellers as much as (or more than) we are, surviving on the effluvia of our society. In Rats, the critically acclaimed bestseller, Robert Sullivan spends a year investigating a rat-infested alley just a few blocks away from Wall Street. Sullivan gets to know not just the beast but its friends and foes: the exterminators, the sanitation workers, the agitators and activists who have played their part in the centuries-old war between human city dweller and wild city rat. Sullivan looks deep into the largely unrecorded history of the city and its masses?its herds-of-rats-like mob. Funny, wise, sometimes disgusting but always compulsively readable, Rats earns its unlikely place alongside the great classics of nature writing.

In his third book, Robert Sullivan leaves the wilds of the (Meadowlands and the rough whaling waters of the Pacific Northwest to take up rat-watching in the alleys of New York City. Sullivan learned to appreciate the rodents during nocturnal stakeouts; a night-vision scope helped him observe rats without scaring them. As in his previous books, Sullivan uses pointillist details rather than broad portraiture to paint his subject, and the details in Rats are devilish. There are plenty of facts in the book to make your skin crawl, such as a description of the greasy skids rats leave on the paths they frequent, and a list of garbage items they prefer to eat. But Sullivan's style is often less that of a nature writer than a historian. In personable, essayish chapters, New York's history is revealed to be particularly ratty, with tall tales about the rodents' disgusting accomplishments going back to the city's founding. Although many people have never seen a rat outside a pet store, Sullivan reminds us that they are our constant neighbors, staring out from dim corners and messy crevices with beady eyes and twitching whiskers. --Adam Fisher

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  "I love this book!"by olympia (see profile) 02/19/10

This was a fun read and very interesting. I thought it was going to be more on the biology of Rats, but it ended up being more a history of Rats within cities. Fascinating stuff and well written. It's... (read more)

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