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Rat city

ISBN: 9781685890995
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Melville House (UBD)
Origin: US
Release Date: August, 2024

Book Details

In the decades following WWII, the American metropolis was in peril. Modern high rises hastily erected to replace slums became incubators of criminality, while civic unrest erupted across the nation. Enter John B. Calhoun, an ecologist employed by the National Institute of Mental Health to study the effects of overcrowding. Calhoun decided to focus his study on rats. From 1947 to 1977, Calhoun built a series of sprawling habitats in which a rat’s every need was met-except space. As the enclosures became ever more crowded, resident rats began to react to social stress, culminating in the terrifying world of Universe 25- a rodent habitat where escalating social disorder collapsed to violent extinction. Did a similar fate await our own teeming cities? Jon Adams and Edmund Ramsden’s Rat City is the first book to tell the story of maverick scientist Calhoun and his now-viral experiments. Following the rats from the baiting pits of Victorian London to the laboratories of NIMH, and Calhoun from rural Tennessee to inner-city Baltimore, Rat City is an enthralling mix of dystopian science and urban history. Social design, housing infrastructure, a burgeoning current of racism in city planning- Calhoun influenced them all, and Rat City connects Calhoun’s work to the politics of personal space, the looming threat of global overpopulation, and the eclipsing of environmental psychology by pharmaceutical psychiatry. As the “war on rats” continues to be waged around the world, and our post-pandemic society reevaluates the necessity of urban living, the riveting story of Rat City is more relevant than ever.