From ancient empires to modern economics, journalist Andrew Lawler takes us on an adventure telling us the story of the animal most crucial to the spread of civilization across the globe-the chicken. Queen Victoria was obsessed with it. Socrates' last words were about it. Charles Darwin and Louis Pasteur made their scientific breakthroughs using it. Catholic popes, African shamans, Chinese philosophers, and Muslim mystics praised it. Hailed as a messenger of the gods, powerful sex symbol, gambling aid, all-purpose medicine, handy research tool, the humble chicken has been also cast the epitome of evil, and the star of the world's most famous joke. Beginning with the recent discovery, that the chicken's unlikely ancestor is T. Rex, this book tracks the chicken from its original domestication in the jungles of Southeast Asia some 10,000 years ago to today's Western societies, where it became the most engineered of animals, to the uncertain future of what is now humanity's single most important source of protein. In a masterful combination of historical sleuthing and journalistic exploration on four continents, Lawler reframes the way we feel and think about all domesticated animals, even nature itself.