'Mr Speaker, I smell a rat; I see him forming in the air and darkening the sky; but I'll nip him in the bud.'
An English Member of Parliament
Are rats still a threat to our health and food? Do they think? Is it true that wild rats sometimes die, unwounded, from social stress? Can studies of rat societies tell us anything useful about our own social lives?
Love them or loathe them, everyone has a rat story. Throughout history vast numbers of rats of many species have shared our space, our food and our diseases; and they continue to do so.
Yet The Story of Rats
is more than a tale about how people and rats live together. It is about science and scientists, the problems they solve and fail to solve, and the scope and imperfections of our scientific knowledge of the world. It is a book for those who love rats or fear them; for the curious, the science literate and non-literate alike.
Early in the Second World War, equipped only with firs class honours from Oxford University, Tony Barnett was drafted, not into the trenches (there weren't any), but into the sewers, wharves, food stores and other rat-infested environments offered by a London bombed nightly by the Luftwaffe. Thus began his interest in rats and his academic career in Scotland, India, Australia and North America. He is now Emeritus Professor of Zoology in the Australian National University.
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