Rats by Robert Sullivan
"As the lost sibling of the least obscure patch of land in America, the rat alley sometimes seems to me the most forgotten place in the city - a lost tide pool on the shore of a great ocean. On the other hand, sometimes I just think of it as an alley, filled with a lot of rats."
Robert Sullivan set out to spend a year in an alley, observing rats in their natural habitat. Sullivan does a magnificent job of blending history and natural science, speculation with fact. His learning process takes him from the Black Plague in the Middle Ages to the creation of sanitation workers rights, to WWII, back to Prohibition mob bosses to bioterrorism, and everything else in between. He treats rats with dignity and respect, but resists the urge to romanticize them, as you can see by the above quote.
The book itself reads well, as if you are reading a blog of his life. It is chatty and smooth and although it bounces back and forth between subjects and time periods, it is not at all difficult to follow. Read the book and flabbergast your friends with your knowledge!