Katherine Pillai's Reviews > Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants

Rats by Robert Sullivan
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Mar 02, 09

Read in December, 2008

This is a book I was scared to read. Living in New York who would voluntarily want to learn about the proximity of rats to human life? Despite the occasional "sick-to-my-stomach" feeling, this was an enlightening account of the habits and history of rats in New York. Robert Sullivan's scope stretches the length of Manhattan and into the Bushwick neighborhood where I teach - he even mentions the community action organization that helped found my school. Sullivan follows the myths, legends, and history of the introduction of rats into the United States and the hysteria surrounding their presence in the city. Sullivan even argues that the equal heroes in the days following September 11th were the Terminex employees who averted a massive rat infestation in the abandoned downtown area. The author has a keen sense of rats (But who wouldn't after spending countless nights observing them in a Financial District alley?) and their incredible drive to overcome their surroundings. Sullivan elevates rats to a higher status and ends his coverage of their existence arguing that there is something to be admired in their incredible staying power. But despite all this, I still live in fear of finding a rat in my toilet bowl.
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