Sunday, November 19, 2006

In praise of pigeons...

in the International Herald Tribune. The book review discusses Andrew Blechman's Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird.

From the book review:
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."

It's much more than that. Blechman starts out on a high note, invoking the hero pigeons of yore that, in the days before the telegraph, carried messages at top speed. Who delivered the results of the first Olympics in 776 B.C.? A pigeon. In wartime it was the pigeon, with its uncannily accurate homing instincts, that could be relied on to brave enemy fire and deliver secret dispatches.

The greatest of them all, Cher Ami, suffered multiple gunshot wounds but pressed on and delivered the message that saved the surviving members of the Lost Battalion during World War I, a feat that won him the Croix de Guerre.
Maybe I'll look at those beach scavengers even more charitably now.

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