City of Ravens.

Author:Polevoi, Lee
Position:Book review

Boria Sax (author); CITY OF RAVENS; The Overlook Press (Nonfiction: History) 22.00 ISBN: 9781590207772

Byline: Lee Polevoi

At present, a group of ravens resides in the famed Tower of London, protectors -- so the story goes -- of the Royal Crown. Legend also has it that, should these ravens ever depart from the Tower, London will fall. How these legends arose, and what it is about ravens that people have found so fascinating over many centuries, is the subject of City of Ravens, Boria Sax's charming, off-kilter work of history and zoology. Sax, who holds a doctorate in Intellectual History and is founder of the organization Nature in Legend and Society, has written similarly quirky studies of man and animal, most notably Animals in the Third Reich: Pets, Scapegoats and the Holocaust.

Sax's far-ranging research encompasses scholarly studies as well as first-hand accounts of his visits to London and surrounding areas in search of raven folklore. To continue in the ornithological vein, one might say he adopts a magpie approach to his subject, so that it's not uncommon for him to pause in the course of his narrative to note that "over 60 places in Britain and Ireland contain the word 'raven': Ravenhill, Ravendale, Raven's Green, Ravencraig, Ravensmoore and so on."

From agriculture to urban settings, the raven conjures up powerful associations and imagery, perhaps at its...

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