Barbara Allen is a minister in the Uniting Church in Australia. Her previous books include Pigeon and Animals in Religion, both published by Reaktion Books.
Allen provides an eclectic overview of an iconic bird, revered by naturalists and the laity, important in Christian iconography, and of interest for understanding popular culture and history in general. Accompanied by 100 illustrations, 78 in color, and well-researched throughout, Allen's engaging text is enhanced by authoritative chapter notes, a good bibliography, a pelican 'timeline, ' and other apparatus. Devoting justified attention to the importance of the pelican as a symbol of 'charity and the virtue of self-sacrifice, ' especially as personified by Jesus Christ, Allen also gives appropriate attention to environmental challenges faced by pelicans, such as the effects of oil spills and untoward persecution by fisherman. . . . With its perhaps unprecedented focus on a topic of such wide appeal, this volume will be valued by students of various histories: natural, art, religious, literary, geographical, and cultural, both general and European. Highly recommended. --Choice