Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?

  • by Andrew Lawler
  • Narrated by Dennis Holland
  • 10 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From ancient empires to modern economics, veteran journalist Andrew Lawler delivers a sweeping history of the animal that has been most crucial to the spread of civilization across the globe: the chicken.
Queen Victoria was obsessed with it. Socrates' last words were about it. Charles Darwin and Louis Pasteur made their scientific breakthroughs using it. Catholic popes, African shamans, Chinese philosophers, and Muslim mystics praised it. Throughout the history of civilization, humans have embraced it in every form imaginable--as a messenger of the gods, a powerful sex symbol, a gambling aid, an emblem of resurrection, an all-purpose medicine, a handy research tool, an inspiration for bravery, the epitome of evil, and, of course, the star of the world's most famous joke.
In Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?, science writer Andrew Lawler takes us on an adventure from prehistory to the modern era with a fascinating account of the partnership between human and chicken (the most successful of all cross-species relationships). Beginning with the recent discovery in Montana that the chicken's unlikely ancestor is T. rex, this audiobook builds on Lawler's popular Smithsonian cover article, "How the Chicken Conquered the World", to track the chicken from its original domestication in the jungles of Southeast Asia some 10,000 years ago to postwar America, where it became the most engineered of animals, to the uncertain future of what is now humanity's single most important source of protein.
In a masterful combination of historical sleuthing and journalistic exploration on four continents, Lawler reframes the way we feel and think about our most important animal partner--and, by extension, all domesticated animals and even nature itself. Lawler's narrative reveals the secrets behind the chicken's transformation from a shy jungle bird into an animal of astonishing versatility, capable of serving our species' changing needs.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

I thought it would be interesting

This must be a book you like a lot or don’t like a lot. With machine-gun rapidity it hits you with a stream of factoids tied together by some relationship to a theme but without much continuity—nothing to make the reader interested in what’s coming next.

I’ve tried listening to several sections of the book and all are of a kind—one fact after another. You might say “What did this guy expect? It’s a book about chickens.” Maybe so, but I thought it would be interesting.
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- Jon

Who would have thought

Well I was totally blown away by this little book and it's fascinating story of the simple chicken. Who would have thought that it could have had such an interesting history. A must read for anybody who needs a change from other subjects. This book explains the history of domesticating chickens to modern industrial chicken processing. Sounds sort of boring but it is the total opposite. Great read.
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- Alex Noble

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-03-2015
  • Publisher: Audible Studios