A Year With New York's Most Unwanted Inhabitants

Robert Sullivan

Published: 6 March 2006
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781862078185


Surprisingly funny and compulsively readable, Rats is an unlikely account of a year spent in a garbage-strewn alley in lower Manhattan. Sullivan spends the year with a notebook and night-vision goggles, hunting for fabled rat-kings, trapping a rat of his own, and trying (and failing) to conquer his own fear of rats. He meets the exterminators, garbage men and civic activists who play their part in the centuries-old war between human city-dweller and wild city rat. He travels to a bizarre Midwestern conference on rats that brings together the leading experts on rat history, behaviour, and control (did you know that one pair of rats can produce 15,000 descendants in a year? That rats' teeth are harder than steel?). In the process, he discovers the many ways in which rats' lives mirror those of humans. Sullivan's unusual and absorbing book earns a place alongside the classics of travel writing.

About the author

Image of Robert Sullivan

Robert Sullivan is a contributing editor to Vogue and a frequent contributor to the New Yorker. He is the author of Rats: A Year with New York's Most Unwanted Inhabitants and A Whale Hunt. He lives in New York. More about the author


‘[A] charming, intellectually inspiring and endiessly fascinating burrow through the world of the city Rattus Norvegicus



‘An entertaining walk on the wild side ... an idiosyncratic guide to the least wanted and most hunted city dwellers in Manhattan’

‘Fascinating and frankly scary. A great book which breaks new ground’

‘Sullivan's account of a year spent watching rats in a New York alley exerts the pull of the macabre ... fascinating’

‘Sullivan's book will pervade your nightmares ... it will also, to your dismay, make you realise that rats' behaviour, in many ways, mimics our own’ Val Hennessy

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