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Though not generally perceived as graceful, crows are remarkably so—a single curve undulates from the tip of the bird’s beak to the end of its tail. They take flight almost without effort, flapping their wings easily and ascending into the air like spirits. Crow by Boria Sax is a celebration of the crow and its relatives in myth, literature, and life.

Sax takes readers into the history of crows, detailing how in a range of cultures, from the Chinese to the Hopi Indians, crows are bearers of prophecy. For example, thanks in part to the birds’ courtship rituals, Greeks invoked crows as symbols of conjugal love. From the raven sent out by Noah to the corvid deities of the Eskimo, from Taoist legends to Victorian novels and contemporary films, Sax’s book ranges across history and culture and will interest anyone who has ever been intrigued, puzzled, annoyed, or charmed by these wonderfully intelligent birds.

184 pages | 27 color plates and 73 halftones | 5.29 x 7.5 | © 2004


Biological Sciences: Natural History

Culture Studies

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“In this vivid and enjoyable meditation on crows in art, literature, and history, Sax gives the genus Corvus the enthusiastic treatment it deserves.”

Publishers Weekly

 “Sax’s book roams divertingly over the scientific and cultural history of the ‘corvid’ family, which includes the carrion crow, the raven, the rook, and the jackdaw, tracing ambivalent responses to the mischievous birds.”


"Boria Sax’s Crow takes a broadly chronological approach, with an intriguing digression on scarecrows. There are strong themes in the way different cultures have thought about crows (and ravens)."


"the sort of mongraph I treasure and seek out, a work that draws together around a totem animal centuries of relevant lore, a richness of iconographic treatments and the best natural history and natural science available to a lay researcher and engaged author"

David Scofield Wilson | H-Net Reviews

"This authoritative and well-researched volume is an ideal source of reference for anyone who has ever been intrigued, annoyed or charmed by these wonderful birds"

Matt Smith | Cage and Aviary Birds

"A fascinating and delightful book... An excellent read for anyone interested in this group of birds."

British Trust for Ornithology

"A pleasure to read. I found it enjoyable, if somewhat disconcerting, to learn that the crow and its relatives have indeed been viewed in so many ways by humans and continue to be a soure of mystery and charm for us today."

Penny Bernstein | Anthrozoos

Table of Contents

1. Mesopotamia
2. Egypt, Greece and Rome
3. The European Middle Ages and Renaissance
4. Asia
5. Native American Culture
6. The Romantic Era
7. Lord of the Crows
8. The Twentieth Century and Beyond
Photo Acknowledgements

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