Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants

Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants

by Robert Sullivan

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Overview

New York Public Library Book for the Teenager
New York Public Library Book to Remember
PSLA Young Adult Top 40 Nonfiction Titles of the Year

"Engaging...a lively, informative compendium of facts, theories, and musings."-Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

Behold the rat, dirty and disgusting! Robert Sullivan turns the lowly rat into the star of this most perversely intriguing, remarkable, and unexpectedly elegant New York Times bestseller.


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.

With an all-new Afterword by the author

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781596919174
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 12/11/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 536,572
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Robert Sullivan is the author of The Meadowlands and A Whale Hunt, both New York Times Notable Books of the Year. He is a contributing editor to Vogue and a longtime contributor to the New Yorker. He lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

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Rats; Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If rats truly disgust you, don't buy this book. However, if you are interested in the survival of a species through wars, plagues, and tragedy, this book provides historical perspective to not only rats perserverance but humans as well. The author does a great job of drawing correlations between humans everyday life and that of rat life (not exact correlations but quite close). The stories he tells I found to be entertaining and informative about the history, the people, and the city of New York. What was ironic was that I was reading his chapters about 9/11 this year around 9/11 and really took the time to think about the situation on another level. A great read, a book that I could put down but truly enjoyed picking up to read again and again.
DEMONTHE7TH More than 1 year ago
Wow some people really are retarded. What made some of the reviewers think that the author was out to exterminate or try to create a rat genocide? Nothing. Right off the bat you can tell the author begins to become interested in looking at rats as people and not a "problem." Maybe you should have read the first couple pages before you bought the book before you invested in something you completely ignored the whole time. This is a very well written book. Yes, rats aren't generally wanted in homes and that makes sense but when you look at things from the point of the rat, they're just like any other species (such as ourselves) trying to get buy in a dangerous and sometimes harsh environment. I've been a proud owner of a domesticated rat and I have to say they are extremely intelligent creatures. Good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What is most enjoyable about this book is that it's not written by a rat scientist (if there's ever such a specific profession), but by a regular joe-schmoe who's intrigued by an 'under belly' of society (i.e., the world of rats) and who happens to be a good writer as well. It's this writer sensibility that Sullivan wants to go beyond describing the natural behavior & habitat of rats, but to expand on why they've been around for so long (imagine, rats living so far under the earth that they may never have seen MAN before!). It's an enjoyable read -- Sullivan presents amusing rat parallels and iconic histories. If you want to learn more about the rat itself though, then look it up in the encyclopedia.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It isn't very often a book makes my skin crawl. I can't think of the last time that happened. This book is amazing. I have learned so much about rats, more then I ever really wanted to, actually. I couldn't put the book down, though trust me, i really, really wanted to more then a few times. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time. Just an incredible book about, lets face it, a scary critter... bluch...RATS!
annbury on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Engrossing and horrible book about the lives of the rats who live(d) in a specific downtown New York City alley. I learned far more than I wanted to know about our fellow city-dwellers, and a lot of it really icky. Nonetheless, I couldn't put it down until I finished it.
maggiereads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite things to do as a reader on vacation is read a book with local flair. You may have noticed my lead to books: The Big Bam by Montville and Pigeons by Blechman. This trip I brought along, Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City¿s Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan, as our 2007 guidebook. Robert Sullivan, author of The Meadowlands and A Whale Hunt, is currently a contributing editor to Vogue and constant contributor to the New Yorker. In 2004, the year Rats was published, I heard Sullivan on NPR and as a guest of David Letterman. I remember thinking he sounds sane and looks normal, but what is wrong with this man. No one, in his right mind, willingly gives up a year of their life to observe rats in their natural habitat. I am happy to say, after reading Rats, author Sullivan is like most Americans. He still gets a little freaked-out working around and in proximity to rats, even after a year of ¿observing.¿ Let us start with the whys. Sullivan thought the rats of New York City, although a quarter to half a million strong, were mostly ignored by nature writers. If they appeared in print it was to shock newspaper buyers into full subscriptions. Yet, for all the potential diseases they carry, they have had little consequence on humans in the last eighty years. Throughout history, where humans created community, so too did rats. As our fictitious Hansel and Gretel skipped into the woods, it wasn¿t song birds but rather hungry rats that ate their bread crumbs. For America, it was the rattus norvegicus or Norway Rat, who arrived, ¿in the first year of the Revolution.¿ From which they ambled after the settlers into the country, as Sullivan quips, ¿a manifest infestation.¿ In the summer of 2001, Sullivan set up camp outside the entrance to Eden¿s Alley. In an L-shaped corridor connecting Gold Street and Fulton, the oldest section of Manhattan, he began his shift at five in the evening where he observed through a night-vision monocular until morning broke. The yearlong experiment included the tragic September 11th loss that fall, when volunteers worked to contain the rats and the pestilence they harbor from Americans. This is a fascinating read about a disgusting animal many humans would rather ignore. Would it surprise you, John James Audubon spent his later years walking the streets of lower Manhattan, similar to our neo-naturalist Sullivan, looking for rats.
pbirch01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book sorely lacked any type of visual aid such as a map of New York or photographs of newspapers or even the rats themselves. Besides that, it was an interesting idea which showed how much history can be tied into one little alley.
timtom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you've ever wondered what secret life all those creatures you see scurrying along subway tracks or around the garbage bags of any city in the world, then this book is for you. Even if you're not, actually. Because sure, rats are gross, disgusting animals. But as they are part of the daily life of many city dwellers worldwide, their history is quite close to that of the human being, and their behavior can tell a great deal about ours.Sullivan's book is full of informative facts, funny anecdotes and many forgotten bits of history; a very entertaining read.
jddunn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting look into a world that's all around us, but that we rarely know how to see. Thorough, at times even bordering on the obsessive, but it works for the topic. Suffers a bit when he tries to get all high-flown and Thoreauvian. You can imitate Thoreau without "imitating Thoreau" if you know what I mean. But those parts are ignorable, and the substance of the book and the entertainingness of the stories it tells carry it through.
dickcraig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had expected a lot more from this book. I have had plenty of contact with rats over the years and it was good to know more about them. I had underestimated their reliance on man for so much of their food. It has led me to be more careful to not provide for them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And the rats died too. They died from the plague.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has it all. A bit about rats and a bit about the history of just about everything. Each chapter deals with a different topic, each bit of research spawned by the author's observation of rats. Does he tell you everything you ever wanted to know about rats? If you are a 'rat fanatic', probably not. But he never promises to, either. For those of us who enjoy just a peek into a lot of topics in an easy-to-read book, this is it. I learned a little about a lot and find myself interested in doing more reading. Definitely worth the read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book because i already know a TON about domestic rats. I mostly learned everything that there is to know... and these nerds in my class go on about how nasty rats are i had to wonder.. what are the doing that for.. their nerds. I think they are mostly fed up because we voted on class pets and SNAKES were out voted over RATS. So i continued to wonder why rats are SO utterly discusting desies ridden pests? Why do ppl think that... i mean i uderstand why ppl think that and i know they are probrably right. So that is why i got this book.. and i LUV it it is very well written awesome!!! BTW fleas caused the plague... not rats!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rats is, indeed, a very bad book. I found the book to be so light on content as to be laughable. If you live, or have lived in New York then you are familiar with rats. They are a part of the city as much as the hot dogs at Nathan¿s. I was looking for some particular insight the author might have gained by watching these animals. What quirks do they have, what makes them so resilient. Unfortunately, he seems to have not gained any insight. He preferred to not get close to his subject. Instead he chose to stand at a distance and assume what the rats were doing in areas beyond his sight. He did not develop any skill at trapping the animals, nor eradicating the vermin. He did not try any experiments. The most you can say the author learned is that rats are rats and behave like, well, rats. All this information for $23.95 - what a bargain.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Save your money and spend it on something else other than this horribly written book. You don't learn anything at all about rats or why they appeared in NYC and people can't seem to get rid of them. He does go over the extermination process, but doesn't give you much insight into it. All he seems to do is observe, the history and habitat written on rats is at its minimum. Spend your money elsewhere this book isn't worth it.