256 pages, no illustrations
Surprisingly funny and compulsively readable, Rats: A Year with New York's Most Unwanted Inhabitants is an unlikely account of a year spent in a garbage-strewn alley in lower Manhattan. Sullivan spends the year with a notebook and night-vision goggles, hunting for fabled rat-kings, trapping a rat of his own, and trying (and failing) to conquer his own fear of rats. He meets the exterminators, garbage men, and civic activists who play their part in the centuries-old war between human city-dweller and wild city rat. He travels to a bizarre Midwestern conference on rats that brings together the leading experts on rat history, behaviour and control (did you know that one pair of rats has the potential for 15,000 descendants in a year? that rats' teeth are harder than steel?) And he reveals the many ways rats' lives mirror those of humans. Sullivan's unusual and absorbing book earns a place alongside the classics of travel writing.
"Sullivan's account of a year spent watching rats in a New York alley exerts the pull of the macabre. This book contains some fascinating material"
- Independent on Sunday
"Charming, intellectually inspiring and endiessly fascinating burrow through the world of the city Rattus norvegicus"
"Fascinating and frankly scary. A great book which breaks new ground"
"Sullivan's book will pervade your nightmares [...] it will also, to your dismay, make you realise that rats' behaviour, in many ways, mimics our own"
- Val Hennessy, Daily Mail
"An entertaining walk on the wild side [...] an idiosyncratic guide to the least wanted and most hunted city dwellers in Manhattan"
- Financial Times
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