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Head of Zeus
Fowl Play
13 Oct 2022 * HARDBACK * £20 * 9781801104470

From dinosaur to dinner plate, Sally Coulthard reveals the cultural history of the chicken.

Non Fiction / WNCB (Natural History)
Extent: 288 pages  Format: 216 x 135 mm Illus: 15 integrated b&w
Exclusive: GB AU NZ IN ZA SG   Not for sale: CA US
The Hedgehog Handbook
A Short History of the World According to Sheep
The Bee Bible
The Barn
The Little Book of Building Fires
The Little Book of Snow
The Hedgehog Handbook
The Book of the Barn Owl
The Book of the Earthworm
Also by Sally Coulthard
Fowl Play: A History of the Chicken from Dinosaur to Dinner Plateby Sally Coulthard

From dinosaur to dinner plate, Sally Coulthard tells the fascinating – and sometimes shocking – story of the domestic chicken.

The chicken can fly only a few metres but – somehow – this unlikely evolutionary descendant of Tyrannosaurus Rex has conquered the world. Earth is now home to more than twenty billion chickens, at least ten times more than any other bird. For every human on the planet, there are three chickens.

In Fowl Play, Sally Coulthard charts the chicken's fascinating journey from dinosaur to domestication to exploitation, exploring every aspect of the history of Gallus gallus domesticus: its importance to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans as food source and fighting bird; its symbolic roles in religion and folklore and metaphorical function in the language we use; its homely place as egg-providing companion on farms, smallholdings and in suburban back gardens; and its darker modern-day fate as battery bird raised to satisfy society's unquenchable addiction to wings and nuggets.

Of all animals, chickens perhaps best represent the contradictory way we humans treat other species; both beloved pet and cheap commodity, symbol of a sustainable good life and brutalised object of factory farming. The chicken is also a bird we feel deeply familiar with and yet know very little about. As informative as it is entertaining, Fowl Play tells a remarkable tale of evolutionary change, epic global travel and ruthless exploitation – as well as of companionship, ingenuity and the folly of human nature.

Sally Coulthard is a bestselling author of books about natural history and rural life including The Barn, A Short History of the World According to Sheep, The Book of the Earthworm, The Hedgehog Handbook and over twenty more titles. She lives on a Yorkshire smallholding which she shares with her husband, three girls and an assortment of unruly animals.

The chicken is the most numerous bird on the planet and its story reveals a great deal about human culture and society across the ages.

Sally is a prolific author and her books about natural history and rural life have together sold 60k copies.

Sally's writing style is engaging and fun at the same time as being authoritative and informative.

MARKET: A Short History of the World According to Sheep; John Lewis-Stempel; Patrick Barkham; Amanda Owen; Roger Deakin; English Pastoral.

'Full of fascinating social history' Independent.
'Global in scope, with fascinating vignettes from the ancient world to the present day' BBC History Magazine.
'A snappy, stimulating book' Mail on Sunday.
'Many wonderful tales unearthed by Coulthard... A smart little book' BBC Countryfile Magazine.
'One of our favourite books of the year'
Yorkshire Post

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