What is so compelling about falconry? Tim Gallagher mines his lifelong obsession with falcons for an answer in this engaging volume interweaving memoir, history, and travelogue. An entire subculture exists outside the mainstream of American society consisting of obsessed individuals (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and film-writer Tony Huston among them) who still use the ancient training techniques and language of falconry. Gallagher finds that his personal story connects on many levels with that of Frederick II, the thirteenth-century Holy Roman Emperor, legendary falconer, and notorious freethinker who brought the full wrath of the medieval church down upon his dynasty. While following Frederick's footsteps through southern Italy, Gallagher ponders his personal history as well. What salve to his spirit did falconry provide when it ignited his passion at age twelve? Beset by a turbulent childhood dominated by a brutal and violent father, Gallagher turned to this sport for emotional release. He offers us a unique glimpse into the contemporary falconry subculture, and the result is a surprisingly frank and revealing personal story.