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Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,381 ratings  ·  338 reviews
From the green countryside of England and the gray canyons of Wall Street come two unlikely heroes: one a pigeon and the other a soldier. Answering the call to serve in the war to end all wars, neither Cher Ami, the messenger bird, nor Charles Whittlesey, the army officer, can anticipate how their lives will briefly intersect in a chaotic battle in the forests of France, w ...more
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published August 11th 2020 by Penguin Books
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Kathleen Yes, it does, specifically of battles in France in the summer of 1918 and on through October of that year, focusing mostly on the 77th Division of whi…moreYes, it does, specifically of battles in France in the summer of 1918 and on through October of that year, focusing mostly on the 77th Division of which both Cher Ami and Whittlesey were a part.(less)

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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,381 ratings  ·  338 reviews

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Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The events that surround Cher Ami and Major Charles Whittlesey during WWI are the ingredients of legends and something worth writing about. Ahem! Both contribute to an outstanding account of heroism that is unique, fascinating, gripping, and authentic to the point where it is impossible to disentangle the weave of fiction from meticulously ordered fact. The story is all the more astonishing when we realise that Cher Ami is a homing pigeon, a female bird with a male name that was recognis
Will Byrnes
For his heroic service, Cher Ami was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with palm. He was returned to the United States and died at Fort Monmouth, N.J. on June 13, 1919, as a result of his wounds. Cher Ami was later inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931, and received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Pigeon Fanciers in recognition of his extraordinary service during World War I. - from the Smithsonian
…in a contest against
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Not giving your own book five stars would be kind of like not voting for yourself in an election.
Elyse  Walters
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update: $1.99 kindle ebook download special - wonderful historical fiction: a great sale price

“It is perhaps unnecessary to say that we pigeons, a species characterized by dramatic individual variation in color and form, find the human preoccupation with small differences in skin color very confounding”.

Homing pigeons played an important role in war. Due to their homing ability, speed and attitude, they were often used as military messengers.
Meet Cher Ami.....
.....a female homing pigeon who
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I obviously didn’t pay attention when I requested this book from netgalley. But I loved Lilian Boxfish Takes A Walk. Cher Ami is an unusual main character. She is a stuffed homing pigeon who served in WWI and now resides in the Smithsonian along with the stuffed remains of Sergeant Stubby. She earned her place in the Smithsonian for flying through enemy fire to alert the US Army to the location of the Lost Battalion.
We also hear from Major Charles Whittlesey, who commanded the Lost Battalion. T
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"In life I was both a pigeon and a soldier...Pigeons cannot fight. Yet I was once as well any human hero of what was then called the Great War...I am enshrined, stuffed, a piece of mediocre the Smithsonian...History buffs tell "the tale of my heroism..." "During that big war in France, some American soldiers got trapped in enemy territory...a unit that would soon be known throughout the world as part of the Lost Battalion...under the command of newly minted Major Charle ...more
Carolyn Walsh
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
There is much to be admired in this memorable and informative story based on historical fact. Vivid descriptions of the and brutality which befell the Lost Battalion in WW1 were highly disturbing. The futility of war was acknowledged. The Great War was supposedly fought to end all wars and save democracy, but the conclusion was that greed was the predominant motive. We read about humanity's deep regard for other humans and animals, but also shocking mistreatment. In this novel, both human and an ...more
Diane Barnes
Sep 16, 2020 marked it as don-t-want-to-finish
Giving up on this at page 127. I gave it a fair chance, and I really wanted to like it much more but it has become an exercise in boredom. Both the chapters narrated by the pigeon and the Major seemed to be reasons to feed newspaper accounts and historical facts to the reader, without making me care about either one of them. And Cher Ami seemed to have a real understanding of both literature and history, which seemed a little strange for a homing pigeon. I know lots of people loved this, I'm jus ...more
Judith E
The gruesome WWI battle in France’s Meuse-Argonne Forest is told through the voices of the heroic homing pigeon, Cher Ami, and the Gary Cooper-like U.S. Army officer, Charles Whittlesey. The recounting is heavy on battle scenes, but the importance of carrier pigeons used for communication is a parallel thread.

The subject matter is not light, unlike the storytelling, and it’s recommended for those that like their history lesson with a spoonful of sugar.
World War I. The Great War.

The book opens with a heavily laden first sentence: Monuments matter most to pigeons and soldiers.

A gay homing pigeon called, Cher Ami, was also a soldier.

October 14th, 1918, Cher Ami saved the lives of a battalion of lost American soldiers in the French woods and got stuffed, yes, wood-stuffed and wire-skeletoned, to be exhibit as 'a piece of mediocre taxidermy, collecting dust in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. The museum was,
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was excited to read Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey by Kathleen Rooney after I read a few positive and glowing reviews by friends on goodreads. My local library was able to provide a copy for me to read. I had read another book a year or two ago about homing pigeons and The Great War so I was excited to read this one. Although the two books had similar settings and both explored the human connection with homing pigeons the plots and outcomes were quite different.

Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey was
Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey is the latest historical fiction offering by Kathleen Rooney based on the true story of five-hundred-fifty infantrymen cut off from their regiment and surrounded by the Germans during five days of fighting in the Argonne Forest in the early fall of 1918 under the orders of General Pershing. Major Whittlesey, a New England Yankee educated at Williams College, a Harvard Law School graduate and a Wall Street lawyer before taking the Army's reserve officer's refresher c ...more
Update: My book club is zooming with Kathleen (the author) on Sep 17. Stay tuned!!

This a beautifully written story told by a pigeon and a man. The setting is WWI, immediately before, and the period of three years after.

Cher Ami - the pigeon. Trained to be a homer (homing pigeon). Unselfishly donated to help in the war cause as a messenger. Cher Ami is one of the best homers and had won many prizes in competitions before being donated to the war cause. Her voice is fresh and lovable. I fell in l
Karen R
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was first drawn to this book when I learned that a pigeon was one of two main characters. How odd I thought. Getting into the head of a homing pigeon? Ok, I’ll bite. Glad I did as this book is now on my list of top books for 2020. It is unique and creative with colorfully descriptive writing.

How valuable these pigeons would become in WWI, serving as a valuable means of communication between HQ and the ground troops. Cher Ami became known as the most famous carrier pigeon of the war. Seeing thi
I loved loved loved this book!! The first few pages had me scratching my head in wonder & I thought, how am I going to continue reading a book that is partially told by a pigeon!! But continue I did & said pigeon, Cher Ami, is now one of my favorite literary characters.

An historical fiction based on real events, this book was told in alternating chapters by Cher Ami & Charles ( Major Whittlesey). Much of the story is based around a real WWI battle & we get a literal "bird's eye view" of things
J. Stradal
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This, folks, is a masterpiece.
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an amazing perspective of WW I. I will not describe the storyline because it’s so unusual you may not be able to envision how it could be good. But it is! Very well written with a lot of new to me information woven throughout. The writing is so good that we are easily able to feel like we are at the scene. Definitely read this, you will be glad you did. Thank you to Amanda from Penguin for providing the ARC. Opinions are my own.
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I had to summarize this book in two words, it would be "heartbreakingly charming." Those aren't necessarily words you see together, but it captures this book better than anything else I can think of.

The story is split into two narratives. The first it from Cher Ami's perspective, reflecting on her life up until now, where she sits in a Smithsonian exhibit. The other is Major Whittlesey as he reflects on life before, during, and after WWI. While their stores carry the same major plot points,
Kasa Cotugno
This is a history based on actual events like no other with dual protagonists/narrators like no others, an examination of courage and grief that goes straight to the heart.

The intervening years have softened the horrors of the First World War, presenting it as a "jolly adventure" in contrast to its reality. We see this "...vast obscenity that was the Great War" through the experiences of Major Wittingsley as he rallies his men of the Lost Batallion in an attempt to maintain standards under impo
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Linda by: Kathleen Rooney on FB
I bought this nook, line, and blinker. Told alternately by a homing pigeon whose gender was misidentified and a tall, intelligent lawyer who becomes a major during WW I. Their story is the story of the "Lost Battalion" caught behind German lines while experiencing "friendly" fire.
Smart, intelligent, Kathleen Rooney knows how to weave a story so tightly, it lassoes the reader before she sees the tether coming.

The only problem with finish this ARC prepublication is how long will I have to wait for
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-read
Thank you to Penguin Random House and Netgalley for the opportunity to read Kathleen Rooney's new novel, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey. Told in alternating chapters by two World War I heroes, this historical novel completely beguiled me. Cher Ami was a female homing pigeon, misnamed for a male who flew important messages between the American troops in France. In October of 1918, she helped save the Lost Battalion which was completely surrounded by German troops and in grave danger of being thoro ...more
Judy G
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
extraordinary book by a highly intelligent and careful writer
It is somewhat historical fiction and it is fiction
there is so much in this book that is very creative and I am a Reader with a grounding in what is real.
I didnt know until I finished it that this is based on a real character who is Major Whittlesey in early 20s in NYC and in Argonne Forest with his men in 77th Batallion WWI. This book is about war and about humanity and about homosexuality and love it is also about animals and our r
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a story of World War I told through the eyes of American soldier Major Whittlesey, and English pigeon Cher Ami. It is a compelling story of a war that many Americans know relatively little about. We were late entering the war in April, 1917.It was a particularly brutal war with 9.7 military and 10 million civilian deaths.

Cher Ami , the homing pigeon, has been memorialized in Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History ( It is my favorite of t
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwi
A very different tale of WWI action featuring one of the homing pigeons (Cher Ami) deployed by United States Air Force and a leader of a lost battalion, Major Charles Whittlesey. We meet Whittlesey in his youth before signing up for service and get to know his family and educational background. The two main characters "meet" on their journey to France's Meuse-Argonne Forest where much is lost in a bitter struggle.
Have I ever read a story with a talking pigeon before? Nope. This is a moving story
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This story has two narrators. Cher Ami is a homing pigeon serving with the US Army in the last battle of WWI, who was instrumental in saving the lives of 194 men of the “Lost Battalion” as she carried a message from the site the men were under fire to the allied command 25 miles away in 25 minutes. When she arrived, she’d been shot in the breast, lost an eye, and one of her legs was destroyed. She died several days later from her wounds. She was treated as a fallen hero, awarded medals, and is n ...more
Sue Habib
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adored Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and was thrilled to receive an advanced copy of Kathleen Rooney's newest book.

Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey is, as expected from Rooney, a vivid and unique spin on historical fiction. She writes an intimate and inspiring tale of two historical figures from WW I, one of whom happens to be a bird.

This was a beautifully written book illustrating the follies and the aftermath of war. I fell in love with Cher Ami and Whit and know that their characters will stay
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book because it was a WWI story, which is not often covered in literature. The premise and true story behind it is fascinating. I suffered through half of it though, because...(come in closer, I want to’s so embarrassing...I don’t even know if I can say it...shhhhhh)’s told by a dead pigeon. Like really. The narration switches between the major who was a part of this incredible battle where his whole battalion was lost, and the homing pigeon who car ...more
Jul 13, 2021 rated it liked it
ok, I'm not sure quite what to say about this book. I'm ambivalent, but glad I read it because:

1) I learned a tremendous amount about WWI. Unfortunately, it seems we had a bunch of incompetent generals and consequently there was significant and needless loss of life.
2) I liked the alternating view between Major Whittlesey and Cher Ami; yes, a stuffed pigeon in the Smithsonian who lived her life mistaken for a male rather than the charming female that she was.
3) The author has a unique writing s
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-arcs
This beautifully written book is authored by a rising star of storytelling! Several years ago, Kathleen Rooney gave us the unique book of historical fiction: “Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk” based on a real woman in retail advertising for Macy*s, in New York City. Currently, Ms. Rooney takes us back to 1918 and actual events that occurred in France during WWI. She retells the story about two, medal-winning war heroes. However, she writes as if they are telling their own stories, in alternating cha ...more
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
I just finished reading this book this morning. I had to ignore all my morning chores to just sit and finish. The final chapters are especially poignant and compelling as an anti-war tale. Kathleen Rooney is brilliant in her subtle delineation of characters--both man and pigeon. (I had no difficulty suspending disbelief to allow Cher Ami and her colleagues to share their thoughts, by the way, primarily due to my great desire to know their thoughts.)

Now I want to start raising homing pigeons. Lo
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Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, and a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose commissioned poetry on demand. She teaches English and Creative Writing at DePaul University and is the author of eight books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including the novel O, Democracy! (F ...more

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