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on March 11, 2003
Its rare that a study like this one is both entertaining and informative, but Mr. Lopez's book is precisely that. We are led through the ages peering at the strenuous relations of humanity and wolf-kind, from primal man's envy of this accomplished, loyal hunter, through his hateful denial of their ties, and finally to its present day nebulous dual attitude of reconciliation and euthanasia. It can best be summed up in the chapters referring to the attitudes of the ancient Greeks -especially the Arcadians, who first emulated the wolf, then hated and feared him as a sheepkiller, and then looked on him with pity and sadness and guilt. I also found the descriptions of wolves in Norse literature indicative of the strange envy/hatred/fear man seems to hold for this creature. Meanwhile the wolf lopes on through all of this, steadfast and unchanging - wanting no part in man's world, content with its own. There is much to be learned from wolves, and this book goes a long way in teaching it. In the closing chapters everything ties together in a manner that it is pretty amazing and eye-opening, even going so far as to point to the inherent relationship between a cosmic disaster and the decline of wolves. Maybe that came of sounding crackpot, but I'm not the author - read him for yourself. Its a great buy, and will stay with you for a long time to come.
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on April 27, 2004
A group of school children was asked to each draw a picture of a wolf. They all drew the typical savage dog-like monster, complete with huge teeth, bloody fangs, demonic eyes, the works. Then an animal handler brought a real wolf into the classroom, on a leash. They were awestruck, and took turns patting it as it was led around the room and introduced to them all. Afterwards, they were again asked to draw a picture of a wolf. This time, the picture was of wolves with big, kind eyes - and enormous, outsized feet. No fangs, no blood.
That's what this book will do to the casual reader, show you the wolf you don't know, and adjust your preconceptions about the wolf you THINK you know. A marvelous achievement; must reading.
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The greatest virtue of this book is that it makes you care. Some of the great wolf books presume already that you have an interest in the subject, like Mech's, as fine and as informative and as authoritative as it is, won't necessarily create a sense of awe like Lopez's. But through a judicious use of scientific and mythological materials, fused together with a marvelous literary sense, Lopez creates an epic retelling of the wolf in North America.
Since reading this book for the first time, a host of sections have remained vivid to me. For instance, a schoolroom that is to be visited by a wolf and its handler. The children are asked to make a drawing of a wolf beforehand, and most create a beast with huge and menacing teeth. After the visit, they are told once again to draw a wolf, and this time draw a dog-like animal with enormous paws. No other section of the book emphasized to me how dreadfully we misconceive wolves. Lopez meanders over the course of Western civilization harvesting tales and stories--both scientific and mythic--recounting the myriad ways we have thought about wolves. Few of our imaginings do their fine qualities justice, and most often we demonize them. As a result, the wolf as we know it is largely a creation of our fevered imaginations. Lopez tries to break through the fictions about wolves to focus more on their truer qualities and natures. The heartbreaking pages that end the book bring to mind the great tragedy it was for the North American wolf for Europeans to have discovered America.
One might have to cut the book a tiny bit of slack because of the graphics. The pictures are judiciously chosen, and while graphics methods have improved dramatically in the past twenty years due to computer technology, and the book the drawings are superb, the photos good if a tiny bit blurry given their age, and the illustrations highly informative. I especially love the reproduction of the print of a three-year-old Alaskan timber wolf. I used to take the paw of my German Shepherd Birgit and place it over the print, and was astonished at how huge the wolf print was in comparison.
This is a truly enjoyable and informative book, one that will enrich and alter the way one looks at nature. Certainly, I now never go to a zoo without a great deal of awe and regret when passing a wolf.
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VINE VOICEon April 8, 2006
This book should be required reading for everyone. Lopez, a superior author in his own right, created THE classic book on wolf behavior and on the relationship between wolves and humans from ancient to modern times.

The first few chapters deal with wolf biology and behavior, and dispel many of the myths--including the idea that nobody has ever been attacked by a healthy wolf in North America (nobody, apparently, thought to check with American Indian experience in history). It's a very, very thorough exploration of the wolf as a mammal, as an animal.

Then Lopez goes into the tangled thornbush of wolf mythology and folklore, and how it affected the way humans slaughtered wolves (or revered them), and how the two fed off of eachother and built up the human (mis)conception of the wolf that has only recently been shattered.

There's a lot of heartbreaking information about wolf hunting, and just how devastated the wolf population has been. Reduced to a fraction of their former range, it's amazing that wolves even still exist.

This book is a must-read, not only for wolf lovers, but for everyone to understand why we have so abused the natural world. For many people, the wolf IS the wild, and how we treat the wolf mirrors how we treat the wild.
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on January 17, 2002
One of my earliest memories is reading Jack London's "Call of the Wild". Ever since then I have been fascinated by dogs and wolves. Barry Lopez has done the wolf and the reader a great service with the extensive research. He does an amazing job of not crusading for the wolf and because of this the book is that much more persuasive. I've always felt that wolves lived their lives similarly to the way that men probably should live their lives. Anyone who has any interest in wolves, or man's relationship with the wild should pick this book up immediately.
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on February 17, 2003
Barry Lopez captures magnificently the combination of scientific research, antidotal anomaly, and sheer pathos that is at the heart of wolf biology. The book manages to be well-documented and at the same time highly emotionally charged. The last two pages represent (in my humble opinion) the most gut-wrenching ending of any treatise ever penned on a single species. Having said that, don't go out and read the last two pages. You need the full weight of the book behind them to give them their punch.
Caution: the book will make you angry, and if you don't have a heart of granite, it may make you cry. It's terribly sad in places.
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on February 28, 1999
This book is as deep into the psychology of canids - and humans - as lay language can take us. If you love dogs, are serious about understanding them, and are not afraid to examine the anthropologic relationship between them and us, this book is a must.
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on December 30, 2010
I want to say the book is very informative in many ways about thoughts of wolves by humans. First I wish to say I have lived with three wolves and found in each case they are very loving. My first Wolf was in thule Greenland and was wild. Once I feed him every day and he became closer to me he would eat out of my hand and later he walked into my barracks and went to my room and slept there and when he wanted out he would lick my hand and I would let him out. He was a white wolf. My second wolf was three wolves Mexican wolf, Asan Wolf and Gray wolf. She was also very loving and we walked all over my property and she was always free and would sleep next to my bed at night. She killed a deer one day and could not lift it up the hill to the house so I held one side and she the other and we carried the deer to the house. She could not rip open the carcass so I did the job for her and then she ate the deer. So they have built in instants on how to bring down a deer. One day she came to me in the house and then ran to the window and back again and since I didn't go see she came and grabed my arm and pulled me to the window and I say a large forest fire coming towards the house and she saved us since we had time to call the fire company in Grass Valley, CA. The third wolf was a white wolf and he was very timid since he had been treated badly in his first owner and when I got him he was 2 years old. He also slept next to my bed and I named him Woofer. He lived to the age of 15 years. Also in the last part of the book Lopez talks about when his wife went to their cage in the dark and they pushed against her and mouthed her arm but did not heart her. In my living with three wolves they all pushed against me and mouthed my arm and that was the way they love you. My friend has 7 wolves here in Idaho and I visit them two to three times a year and when I give them a wolf howl they all come to me and I hand feed them and they all do that to me. He has gotten another female wolf which is very large and she put her feet on my sholders and gave me a big lick and I scratched her behing her ears and gave her a meat bone and she then ate it and then she push against me again and I then left for the day. So wolves are realy afraid of humans except if you show no fear they get to trust you and then after that they love you always and never foget.
Dr. Don Law Post Falls, Idaho 208 773-7151
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on August 29, 2003
As long as this book is read by someone with a logical mind who can find the errors and generalizations made by Lopez, this is an excellent book. It has few tendenies to generalize, though it does make the wolf out to be something of a magical creature with super powers in some points. It is a rare thing to find a good thick book of the behavior and ways of wolves (and men) so it would be unwise for the well-educated curious person to miss this.
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on December 5, 2015
Prompt delivery. Excellent text, as expected of Barry Lopez. Binding perfect but book printed on cheapest possible paper, lighter and less opaque than newsprint. Illustrations show poorly on this kind of paper and the print on the opposite side of the leaf is visible through the paper. Does not look or feel like a professionally manufactured book. Some sort of print-on-demand technology?
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