Fowl Play: A History of the Chicken from Dinosaur to Dinner Plate


Fowl Play: A History of the Chicken from Dinosaur to Dinner Plate Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: Head of Zeus
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Pages: 288 Illustrations and other contents: 15 integrated b&w Language: English ISBN: 9781801104470 Categories: , , Tag:

From dinosaur to dinner plate, Sally Coulthard tells the fascinating – and sometimes shocking – story of the domestic chicken. Earth is home to 23 billion chickens, at least ten times more than any other bird. For every human on the planet, there are three chickens. Despite being capable of flying only a few metres, this most adaptable animal has somehow managed to conquer the world.

In Fowl Play, Sally Coulthard probes every aspect of the genus Gallus: the evolution and domestication of the chicken; its social behaviour and array of physically striking varieties, from Rhode Island Reds to Belgian d’Uccles and from Buff Orpingtons to White Leghorns; its importance in ancient Egyptian religion, Roman augury and Christian theology; its role as egg-providing companion on farms and smallholdings and in suburban back gardens; and the darker reality of modern poultry farming and society’s insatiable appetite for chicken breasts, wings and nuggets. This is a story of evolutionary change, epic global travel, and exploitation, as well as biophilia, companionship and human ingenuity.

Weight0.460728 kg


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'Charming and illuminating... A fascinating history, light on moralising but rich in fancythat details. It may put you off your capon nuggets, but it will give you a good story to share with the parson's nose' * Mail on Sunday * 'Wonderfully entertaining and informative' -- Tim Birkhead, author of Birds and Us '[A] marvellously complete and utter history of chickens... Hen-like herself, Ms Coulthard, a smallholder, has left no stone unturned in a book as well-researched and wide-ranging as it is written. From the first page to the last, Fowl Play is as smooth as chicken supreme' * Country Life * 'My first reaction was that this was an extraordinary book to have been written, but then I came to wonder how it had not been written before, so interesting is the subject' -- Michael Portillo 'A playful, entertaining and satisfyingly informative study of this humble bird and the integral and varied roles it played thoughout human history accross the world... Thoroughly researched and engagingly written... A great read' * Archaeology Worldwide Magazine * PRAISE FOR SALLY COULTHARD: '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 *

Author Biography

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.

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