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The New Wolves Hardcover – October 1, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Once again, Bass (The Ninemile Wolves) returns to the controversial theme of wolf reintroduction to weave a lyrical narrative along the boundaries of the nature essay, character portraiture and eco-philosophy. Relying on contemporary anecdotes and personal remembrances that are full of sentiment but never sentimental, Bass discusses the government's efforts to reestablish the Mexican wolf population in three Southwestern states. His concern centers on the dramatic environmental changes that will greet this previously captive, zoo-bred remnant of the great wolf packs that roamed the territory for thousands of years. More than a century of overgrazing by cattle has changed the ecology to such an extent that Bass wonders if the species is adaptable enough to successfully regenerate in its former homelands. Bass, a staunch environmentalist, has sympathy for all the competing factions in this controversial equation. He doesn't deal in stereotypes. Ranchers, cowboys, Indians, hunters, survivalists, scientists, government agents and idealistic student activists are all treated with respect and understanding. The writer moves easily among the contending parties, with his keen eye on the land that holds and molds them all. He mines the layers of political, social, economic, cultural and ethical relevance with a unique poetic voice, and, in the end, it is the wolves who most vigorously capture his imagination and fascination. This is a ballad of a book, a hymn to the gloriously defiant power of survival that transcends the single issue that is its putative subject. Eight-page color insert, not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
As a Southwestern companion to Bass's 1992 treatise on the reintroduction of wolves in Montana (The Ninemile Wolves, LJ 5/15/92), The New Wolves examines the federally mandated attempt to reestablish the lobo, or endangered Mexican wolf, in Arizona. The project, generally buoyed by public support, faces local opposition from ranchers and hunters. Bass presents a brief history of wolf eradication programs in the Southwest, as well as a description of the volunteers, philanthropists, and various government agencies involved in the ongoing project. As an avowed environmentalist, he readily admits the difficult prospects facing the three packs of wolves but remains hopeful they can adapt and survive in a changed landscape. A good addition (also see James Burbank's Vanishing Lobo, Johnson Bks., 1990, o.p.) by a popular author for public libraries and environmental collections. (Illustrations not seen.)ATim J. Markus, Evergreen State Coll. Lib., Olympia, WA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
Bass steps through the reintroduction of Mexican wolves (lobos), from the Endangered Species Act to those whom the wolves may affect (ranchers), to the volunteers and activists taking part in the reintroduction efforts. He lends an element of mysticism and spirit, even animism, to the land and to the wolves. This is woven throughout, not heavyhanded, just his sentiments that the land itself desires what it once had, a complete ecosystem and food chain, natural wild predators. And that when the land and its environment and surroundings are complete, everything (and everyone) benefits. It is a healthy support system.
The book references the studies related to reintroduction, and notes that a lot of guesswork has to go into it, since there was no real documented behaviors or studies of the lobos before we stripped them from the land. Bass's biases are obvious--but this book will mostly invite reads from those with a similar mindset.
I recommend this. A fast read, a nice succinct view into real conservation efforts that are happening today, and that have science, government, and good people behind them.
Some of my favorite quotes (of which there were many):
"wolves will make it back to this land because the land desires it" (31)
"I need wilderness, big wilderness, as an antidote to my sins--a place to say, Here I will finally devour nothing" (104)
"if the land is sick, nothing on top of it can truly be vital or healthy" (73)
"I wonder: are we having radicalism bred out of us? What does it say for us when the idea of having one hundred Mexican wolves free in the world again is deemed radical?" (91)
"Everything writes sentences: rivers, streams, wind currents, elk herds, migrating geese, wolves. Everything has a voice. Some voices are merely less audible than others. We ignore them at our peril; in shunning the lessons of history we embrace ignorance, we fail to take advantage of guidelines for the future. Our stories, our lives, our cultures sag and fracture into gibberish and monosyllabic chants of *More, more more*. [...] we are running out of the thing that once sustained us: a certain spirit and imagination upon the land, and certain stories told to us by that land." (121)
"There are no neat stories in nature, no tidy closures with beginning, middle, and end; no epiphanies. There is only ongoing process, continuous struggle." (158)
Rick Bass has written an important book which tells the story of a few real patriots who have tried to re-introduce the wolf into its natural habitat. He describes the problem in the first chapter entitled "Drought." Some students and a few teachers became interested in making "amends" to nature by restoring some of the original eco-system, and one chapter covers the painstaking steps taken by this group to prepare wolves that had been raised in captivity to their new life "in the wild." By far though, most of the book details the human "strife" surrounding the new program, including support from the federal government, opposition from the ranchers, the provocative role of an eco-anarchist (Dave Foreman, founder of Earth First!), and the unlikely support of a billionaire who had made his money in the media, Ted Turner.
The University of New Mexico football team is called the "lobos," so there remains much local interest in the project... pro and con, and there are the scattered articles in the paper, which even carry the perhaps true story of school children being threatened by wolves at the bus stop. Then again, it may simply be the hysteria from the "hardwired" loathing of wolves. Bass book is now 10 years old; in the interim the political winds have blown against those who believe that more funds should be spent on preserving our natural environment, including our National Parks. Though it might be discouraging, the book should be updated to cover this period. The political winds have again changed, and those interested in our environment and infrastructure are now ascendant. A recommended read.