City of Ravens

City of Ravens

5.0 1
by Boria Sax
     
 

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The "valuable . . . charming" (Esther Woolfson) story of the mysterious Tower of London ravens Charles II feared Britain would fall if the ravens ever left the Tower of London.
Yet the truth is that they arrived in Victorian times as props in gory plays for tourists. But the ravens' past has far more high drama. From the plains of the North American Indians to

Overview

The "valuable . . . charming" (Esther Woolfson) story of the mysterious Tower of London ravens Charles II feared Britain would fall if the ravens ever left the Tower of London.
Yet the truth is that they arrived in Victorian times as props in gory plays for tourists. But the ravens' past has far more high drama. From the plains of the North American Indians to the arctic tundra, all the way to the Tower of London, they have been symbols of cruelty, of survival through adversity, and a loveable icon. Boria Sax shows how our attitudes to the raven and to the natural world have changed enormously over the centuries. By describing the distinct place of this special bird in Western culture, he shows how blurred the lines between myth and history can be. This is a unique and brilliantly readable story of the entwined lives of people and animals.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
American folklorist and historian Sax (Crow) examines a powerful collection of raven myths among the British as he trains his gaze on the beloved ravens cared for by elaborately costumed raven masters at England’s famed Tower of London. Various history and guidebooks blame the birds for pecking the eyes from Lady Jane Grey’s severed head and state that Charles II had the wings of six ravens clipped so they wouldn’t fly away because it was believed since medieval times that the Crown and Tower would fall if the ravens left. However, Sax proves that the ravens were actually introduced in Victorian times and that the legend that Britain will fall if the ravens leave the Tower may originate with WWII, when a raven named Jackie, a brewery mascot, reportedly anticipated bombing attacks. Sax also demonstrates how the raven beliefs were influenced by a 13th-century legend of a Celtic raven god, Bran the Blessed, and how mythmaking is an ongoing, creative process and not just a relic of the remote past. This quirky and absorbing book demythologizes England’s folklore at the site of an iconic tourist attraction but is too specialized for a broad readership. Illus. (July)
From the Publisher
"Both a delight and a profound illumination of the subject . . . with unexpected and fascinating conclusions." — Esther Woolfson, author of Corvus

"A wonderful contribution to the modern history and mythology of one of the world's greatest cities." — Ronald Hutton, Commissioner of English Heritage

"Boria Sax traces the history of the ravens in the Tower of London with accurate scholarship and engaging stories." — John Marzluff, co-author of In the Company of Crows and Ravens

"Boria Sax is a likable writer, evidently enthused by his subject, and his diligent research has not only illuminated the origins of one of Britain's most famous myths, but also amply demonstrated ravens' 'uncanny ability not only to summon old tales but to constantly generate new ones'" — The Times Literary Supplement

"Quirky and absorbing." — Publishers Weekly

"Building lucent layers of inquiry and metaphor, he offers a fascinating natural history of ravens, men, and mythmaking." — Chronogram

"In City of Ravens, historian Boria Sax debunks these deliciously macabre legends, suggesting that the birds were actually first brought to the Tower in the 19th century as pets, not corpse eaters. . . . The author delves into the true history and cultural importance of these massive corvids. It's a lively, entertaining tale with a few grisly details from real events." — Audubon

"City of Ravens remains a valuable study of the symbolic role of ravens in Britain. The author successfully charts our changing relationship with the enigmatic birds throughout the ages." — New York Journal of Books

"The raven has proven a fascinating creature since mankind laid eyes on it. City of Ravens: London, The Tower, and Its Famous Birds analyzes the place of the Raven in world culture, where it has been both feared and revered, having an unusual place in mythology, as author Boria Sax presents a fascinating delve into the raven and its relation to humanity, with a special focus on the legends of the Tower of London. City of Ravens is a must read for anyone curious about the curious bird, very much highly recommended." — Midwest Book Review

The Times Literary Supplement
"Boria Sax is a likable writer, evidently enthused by his subject, and his diligent research has not only illuminated the origins of one of Britain's most famous myths, but also amply demonstrated ravens' 'uncanny ability not only to summon old tales but to constantly generate new ones'"
Chronogram
"Building lucent layers of inquiry and metaphor, he offers a fascinating natural history of ravens, men, and mythmaking."
Audubon
"In City of Ravens, historian Boria Sax debunks these deliciously macabre legends, suggesting that the birds were actually first brought to the Tower in the 19th century as pets, not corpse eaters. . . . The author delves into the true history and cultural importance of these massive corvids. It's a lively, entertaining tale with a few grisly details from real events."
New York Journal of Books
"City of Ravens remains a valuable study of the symbolic role of ravens in Britain. The author successfully charts our changing relationship with the enigmatic birds throughout the ages."
Midwest Book Review
"The raven has proven a fascinating creature since mankind laid eyes on it. City of Ravens: London, The Tower, and Its Famous Birds analyzes the place of the Raven in world culture, where it has been both feared and revered, having an unusual place in mythology, as author Boria Sax presents a fascinating delve into the raven and its relation to humanity, with a special focus on the legends of the Tower of London. City of Ravens is a must read for anyone curious about the curious bird, very much highly recommended."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590207772
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
07/05/2012
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,042,168
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

John Marzluff
"Boria Sax traces the history of the ravens in the Tower of London with accurate scholarship and engaging stories."
Ronald Hutton
"A wonderful contribution to the modern history and mythology of one of the world's greatest cities."
Esther Woolfson
"Both a delight and a profound illumination of the subject . . . with unexpected and fascinating conclusions."

Meet the Author

Boria Sax is the award-winning author of City of Ravens (available from Overlook) and Animals of the Third Reich. His books have been translated into eight languages. He lives in White Plains, New York.

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City of Ravens: The True History of the Legendary Birds of the Tower of London 0 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 0 reviews.