Some people have a fear of rats, while others keep them as pets. In 'The story of rats', S. Anthony Barnett shows his liking for these creatures, but he doesn't present them as cuddly friends. No, fairly soon we are reading about the diseases they carry and the harm rats do to us. He goes on to look at things from the rats' point of view, with questions such as 'Do rats think?', and a look at agression in rat societies. The book is interesting to read, and is recommended for anyone with an interest in these creatures with which we often share our habitations.
However the book is as much about scientists as it is about rats. Rats have been used in many studies of behaviour, but Barnett warns against explaining rats behaviour in excessively human terms, and also against the opposite extreme of behaviourism. He also shows that the study of tame rats is likely to lead to misleading conclusions, as their social behaviour is very different from that of wild rats. Barnett's research on rats began over sixty years ago. I felt that more autobiographical details would have helped to indicate the time frame of this research. But that's a minor point and what he has to say will certainly be very useful to those wishing to study animal behaviour