New Book Explores Importance of the Chicken

UK - A new book, 'Why Did the Chicken Cross the World', has been published covering the history of chicken production since its domestication.
calendar icon 13 April 2015
clock icon 3 minute read
Duckworth publishers

Subtitled 'The Epic Saga of the Bird that Powers Civilization', the book is by Andrew Lawler and will be published in hardback on 7 May 2015 by Gerald Duckworth & Co. of London.

According to the author:

  • The chicken was first domesticated for cockfighting, not food
  • In most countries, including the United States, the factory-farmed chicken is not even considered legally to be an animal, and there are no regulations on their welfare
  • Rural women in 20th-century America laid the foundation for the world’s multi-billion dollar poultry industry
  • Queen Victoria’s personal interest in exotic chickens led to the development of modern breeds that combined Asian chickens with European varieties
  • Charles Darwin used the chicken as key evidence to build his arguments about evolution.

From ancient empires to modern economics, journalist Andrew Lawler tells the story of the animal 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. Hailed as a messenger of the gods, powerful sex symbol, gambling aid, all-purpose medicine, handy research tool, the humble chicken has been also cast the epitome of evil, and the star of the world's most famous joke.

Beginning with the recent discovery, that the chicken's unlikely ancestor is T. Rex, this book tracks the bird from its original domestication in the jungles of Southeast Asia some 10,000 years ago to today's Western societies, 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, Mr Lawler reframes the way we feel and think about all domesticated animals, even nature itself.

Andrew Lawler is a journalist who has written on subjects ranging from asteroids to zebrafish for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Discover, The New York Times, among others. He is a contributing writer for Science magazine. Visit him at

For more information on the book, contact Gerald Duckworth & Sons.

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