Review of “All Cooped Up”

This review appeared in the April edition of The Poultry Press, on page 51.  We are happy to share it here, as well.

Wisconsin native Patricia Lacey has written a detailed, extensive history of the American Bantam Association, called All Cooped Up. The title is interesting, because, of course it refers to chickens, but also perhaps to the fact that the ABA began its history somewhat restrained by the American Poultry Association. The book is short, but packed with historical data and has clearly been extensively researched.

There are a couple of things that All Cooped Up is not. It is not a book for a novice. If you just bought a few chicks to raise in the back yard, this book is not a good place to start. If you are looking for information about how to raise or breed bantams, this book is not for you.

However, All Cooped Up is an appealing book for die-hard bantam fans. Anyone who is or would like to become a licensed poultry judge through the ABA might want to read this book to understand the politics of bantams and why the ABA exists. Have you wondered why the ABA has different rules than the APA for exhibiting bantams? You will likely find answers in this book, and people who are members of the organization and would like to learn about its history will find Lacey’s book worthy reading.

Lacey begins with an overview of the poultry fancy, and the very beginnings of organized exhibitions and competitions, then continues to chronicle the beginning of the American Poultry Association, and the early issues that bantam breeders had with that organization.  The next section of the book begins to look at the year-by-year changes the ABA made, along with challenges it faced.

Each chapter covers a decade and begins with a fairly detailed overview. In some ways, these overview pages of each chapter are the best part of the book. The voice is clearly Lacey’s and these sections are easy to read and follow. After the overview, each year within the decade is documented, based on the ABA Yearbook, the minutes from meetings and various other publications. This is where Lacey’s training as an historian is particularly evident.

Depending on your level of interest in organizational behavior, the year-by-year sections can get a little boring, partly because you already know what is going to happen based on the overview at the beginning of the chapter. However, if there are events you find of special interest the yearly details provide plenty of detail. For instance, the organization undertook some major projects in the 1960s so the yearly descriptions are helpful.

This book helped me understand why there is an American Bantam Association. I believe in the power of unity so I was always surprised to see so many separate poultry associations formed. Canned Heat’s song “Let’s Work Together” and the concepts of “United we stand or divided we fall” are concepts that I hold dear. The concept of the United States being a 50 state union, with both individual state governments and a federal government is a good system that has lasted almost 235 years. Through this book I can see why there was a need for the American Bantam Association to stand up for those little bantams. In our past the bantams were not respected and needed a group to represent the breeders interests.

All Cooped Up is a must-read for anyone who is seriously involved with exhibition poultry.  As the saying goes “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Learning about the history of an organization in which you invest your time and energy is crucial, if you plan to make an original contribution.  Patricia Lacey can easily count All Cooped Up as a valuable, original contribution to the ABA and the bantam fancy.