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Their Natural and Unnatural Histories
Narrated by: Katherine Dyer
Length: 7 hrs and 36 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, World Affairs

Non-member price: $28.94

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Lembke's affection for chickens comes through in this lively audiobook about the history of the bird, covering topics such as its descent from the dinosaurs and its appearances in literature. Narrator Katherine Dyer's unhurried, amiable performance delivers complex details and interesting facts about the chicken with ease, and she finds the right amount of humor and matter-of-factness when narrating funny anecdotes, personal testimonies, and even scientific data.

Listeners will be surprised and pleased at the amount of interesting information in this audiobook and will come away with a new appreciation for this humble barnyard fowl.

Publisher's Summary

A fascinating cultural history of chickens in our world.

Framed by the author’s personal experience with backyard hens, Chickens: Their Natural and Unnatural Histories explores the history of the chicken from its descent from the dinosaurs to the space-age present. En route, Lembke surveys chickens in ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the 19th century, and modern times, including the role of chickens in Jewish and Muslim practices. She also investigates the birds’ contributions to science and their jaunty appearances in literature. Eggs receive a chapter of their own, as does chicken cuisine, comprising recipes from the Roman Empire to today’s favorites. Stories about chickens appear, too, often written by those who keep them, including the painter Grandma Moses, the man who holds Cleveland’s Farm Animal Permit No. 17, and Brenda, who had to give her young roosters a talking-to for behaving like sheep.

Chickens have only recently come to a sorry pass in the Western world, where broilers and laying hens are factory-farmed. Lembke investigates the fate of such birds and explores the sustainable, humane alternatives to raising birds for meat and eggs.

A celebration of the chicken in its every aspect, Chickens is sure to delight the chicken fancier, the backyard chicken keeper, and everyone concerned about where our food comes from and how we can treat animals more compassionately.

©2012 Janet Lembke (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Elisa
  • 05-05-2013

Interesting but...

Any additional comments?

What can I say? I started reading this hoping that it would be about evolution or selective breading, something along those lines anyways. I was expecting lots of references and evidences of how Chickens came to be. the narration is alright, though not captivating enough to make the book really worth it. As I read the book, i kept finding myself asking, that's it? Is that all the evidence the author had to offer? Granted, there were some interesting sections, especially when the author speaks of how humans use to view chickens and how it is used in literature, but I was also expecting some more science throughout. In the end, I didn't finish the book, because it seems to slip into narration as it draws to an end and there was still very little references to how chickens changed throughout the year.

One good thing that came out from reading this book; I finally remember the order in which an organism is classified. Not highly recommended aside from that.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • david
  • 23-03-2014

Chicks ROCK!!

As a "backyard" chicken keeper, I loved this book. I am not sure a reader that is not familiar with the joys of chickens would enjoy the book as much, but I loved it and hope it is the first of many books on these wonderful, feathered friends.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • J.D.
  • 13-05-2013

Awful, if you like chickens.

What would have made Chickens better?

This is a book that never should have been published. You won't learn anything from it, nor will you be entertained.

What could Janet Lembke have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Less rambling and more stories and facts.

Would you be willing to try another one of Katherine Dyer’s performances?

Yes. The reading was well done.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Chickens?

Just about all of them.

Any additional comments?

I rarely dislike an audio book.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful