Ravenmaster : My Life With the Ravens at the Tower of London
by Skaife, Christopher

1 Silhouette
2 Ravenmaster
3 The Rules
4 Roll Call
5 Bird Life
6 Tower Green
7 Biscuits and Blood
8 The Menagerie
9 Black Birds
10 The Raven Spreads His Wings
11 The Great Escape
12 Resistance to Interrogation
13 Citizens of the World
14 Double-Hatting
15 The Story
16 Application
17 Speaking in Ravenish
18 Bird Brains
19 Ravenology
20 The Legend of the Ravens at the Tower
21 Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
22 My Mistress' Eyes Are Raven Black
23 Birds and Books
24 Death and the Raven
25 The Ghosts of My Life
26 And So to Bed
27 Great Traditions
28 Sentinels of the White Tor
29 Rising Above
Appendix: Ravenmasters Since 1946231(2)
Suggested Reading233(4)

"A narrative by the Tower of London's official Ravenmaster about what it's like to live among the ravens at England's most famous national monument, woven together with insight from folklore, history, and contemporary behavioral science about this unusual bird"-

Christopher Skaife is Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) and Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. He has served in the British Army for twenty-four years, during which time he became a machine-gun specialist as well as an expert in survival and interrogation resistance. He has been featured on the History Channel, PBS, the BBC, Buzzfeed, Slate, and more. He lives at the Tower with his wife and, of course, the ravens.

When the ravens disappear from the Tower of London, the tale goes, then England will fall—good reason to keep someone on staff to keep the birds happy.What's the difference between a raven and a crow? No, it's not that one's for the crockpot and one for the oven. There's much more to it than that, and one of the best people to tell you about the matter is "Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife, of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and member of the Sovereign's Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary," as the author identifies himself. Rather more informally, he's the Ravenmaster, the fellow who looks after the resident raven population at the famed Tower of London. This is no easy job; Skaife writes with rueful authority of having to overcome his understandable fears of being put in a cage to study, up close, a bird that for all purposes might as well have been a condor at first glance. His affection for the birds has evolved, though, and he w rites movingly of the many ways in which harm can come to them—including, strangely enough, being hurt in a fall. "These days," he writes, "if a raven dies unexpectedly at the Tower and I'm not sure of the cause of death, I take it to the vets at the London Zoo for a post-mortem." As for the legend, supposedly dating to the time of Charles II, that the health of the birds is correlated to the health of the Crown, Skaife does a nice bit of historical archaeology to dig up evidence for the legend, which turns out to be more modern than advertised. It's no H Is for Hawk as a literary achievement, but Skaife's account delivers a pleasing set of anecdotes that will appeal to the Atlas Obscura-reading crowd, to say nothing of corvid fans. For those seeking the secrets of the Tower of London without actually being imprisoned there, this is just the thing. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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