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Of Wolves and Men

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  1,508 ratings  ·  65 reviews
"The wolf exerts a powerful influence on the human imagination. It takes your stare and turns it back on you." So Barry Lopez writes in his first major work of nonfiction, a careful study of the way that wolves and humans have interacted over centuries, and the way that the wolf has become so central to our thinking about animals. Drawing on considerable personal experienc ...more
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published 1978 by Charles Scribner's Sons
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Kenneth
This is as much about man's complicated relationship with wolves as it is about the wolves themselves. Lopez uses a four-pronged approach to telling the story in that he considers four more or less distinct perspectives: Wolves as objects of scientific inquiry, as objects of interest to people bound up in the natural world with them, as objects of hatred for livestock raisers and, finally, as objects of man's literature, religion and mythology; from Aristotle and Aseop up to modern times.
They a
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Kaia Gondron
“Lopez, Barry. Of Wolves and Men.”
New York: Scribner, 1978

With shocking and detailed descriptions of a species of animal for which the book is named, Lopez’s novel immediately tosses the reader into a world made only for wolves and their prey. Stunning images compliment his words and add such a unique flavor to his work. Ranging from scientific explanations of wolves’ adaptability to their love and protection of their pack members, this work goes into deep analysis of the wolf and everything tha
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Anna
Fifteen years after first reading Of Wolves and Men, this book is still, in my opinion, the best examination of man's complicated love/hate relationship with canis lupus, and why the survival of the wolves matters to the survival of ourselves -- our inner souls, most of all. Barry Lopez's language is lyrical and magical, close to worshipful, but never preachy or political. This is not a book about environmentalism or preserving a threatened species. It's a love story about wolves. Not dogs, but ...more
Josh
A few random quotes:

"Imagine a wolf moving through the northern woods. The movement, over a trail he has traversed many times before, is distinctive, unlike that of a cougar or a bear, yet he appears, if you are watching, sometimes catlike or bearlike. It is purposeful, deliberate movement. Occasionally the rhythm is broken by the wolf's pause to inspect a scent mark, or a move off the trail to paw among stones where a year before he had cached meat."

"The movement down the trail would seem rele
...more
Rachel M
extremely interesting, the ideas that are touched upon are incredible. like the conversation of death between prey and predator. its non fiction, but it doesn't slow you down with a bunch of facts, yet it still proves the ideas. the pictures of wolves i find awesome, and i have been drawing some out of the the book.
the similarities between Inuit hunting techniques and wolf hunting techniques is close.
so fair i really like the book. i have now stared on the more mythological medieval historical s
...more
Dorothy
If I could only have three wolf books with me on a desert island, this would absolutely be one of them. The other two change depending on my mood, but I wouldn't leave this one behind. Of Wolves and Men offers wonderful insights into the biology and behavior of wolves. But its greatest value is its discussion of wolf mythology and of our own complex and often disturbing attitudes about wolves. What amazes me is that this book was written in 1978 and, although some of the science on behavior and ...more
Richard Reese
Of Wolves and Men, by Barry Lopez, explores many facets of the long and tempestuous relationship between humans and wolves. Sadly, in an age of infinite information and growing eco-awareness, many people still remain crippled by an overwhelming, totally irrational hatred of wolves. They want them all dead. Now.

The people of hunting societies had immense respect for wolves, amazing animals that could survive long arctic winters without tools, clothing, or fires. Both wolves and humans were highly
...more
Anna
Lopez makes a point in the beginning that not much is known about wolvse (especially at the time that this book was written) so if you're looking for an informative source on wolves for a project, perhaps this isn't it. But he does show off some flair in his writing, and I think some of the meanings that Native Americans have put behind wolves are interesting.
Adam
"What but the wolf's tooth whittled so fine
The fleet limbs of the antelope."

A remarkable crossroads of science, indigenous culture, western mythology, and a deep abiding admiration. Is there another naturalist writer who can so effortlessly blend tenderness towards his subject (and the related sense of loss and sadness) with history?

There are many in the world who look at science as a great demystifying force that denudes our appreciation of wonder and love of nature-- "Of Wolves and Men" should
...more
Jo
In a world where wolves are misunderstood and persecuted, this should be required reading.
very hard to read at times but if you love wolves as I do, you have a duty to read it.
Joe
This book kept my interest until it became chapter after chapter of Man's sadistic extermination of the wolf in pornographic detail. (Examples spared.)

Wolves and Men falls into my dissertation category; meaning the author includes every bit of research he can possibly find in myth, legend, folklore, American Indian religion, literature, and on and on.

The study of these remarkable animals, their social structure and their survival methods was fine; then I got the sense that he was dragging it
...more
Steve
An amazing book, this is a look at wolves, primarily with an American focus, but with a range that is much broader. Divided into 4 sections: The first looks at the natural history of the wolf - their range, habits, seasonal round, diet, body language, and their interactions with one another and with other cohabiting species. The second section looks at the contrast between how the wolf is seen by traditional people who cohabit with the wolf v. modern wildlife biologists, and uncovers many nuance ...more
Marlène
Presque 5 mois! Il m'en a fallu du temps pour finir ce livre au titre bien accrocheur, «Of Wolves and Men». Bon, une petite pause de 3 mois au milieu, priorités priorités (plus jamais, d'ailleurs: toujours d'accorder du temps de lecture quotidien pour sa santé mentale et son repos psychologique, pour se dépayser des priorités et des responsabilités).
Je n'aurais pas dû mettre autant de temps puisque ce tome, aussi long et d'apparence complexe et technique soit-il, se lit très facilement. Je me so
...more
Adam
Barry Lopez has dedicated his incredible career as a writer and thinker to exploring the confluence of nature and culture. Most of his fiction explores the subject through the lens of individuals, scientists and shamans and aesthetes, historical figures and travelers. Most of his non-fiction is place based, though the focus ranges from cities to islands to the entire Arctic.

Rather than offering his own viewpoint, then (though it is not concealed and certainly emerges throughout the book), Lopez
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Kris Irvin
A fascinating study of men's reactions to wolves. Not so much about wolves as it is about the mythology, demonizing, and killing of them. There's still some wolf-y information, but for someone who has studied wolves for a lifetime, it's nothing new.

Still, I enjoyed reading about the different legends about wolves from different cultures. I found the Pawnee legends particularly interesting.

The chapters on wolf hunting and the eradication of wolves was hard to read. It was presented well, very s
...more
Laurens Schaad
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrea Olsen
The question this book asks is: What is a wolf? (Remember it's a human asking the question.)

It starts out with the scientific approach for studying wolves and their behavior, like radio collars, and what has been learned, then moves on to views of the Native American and Inuit people who have lived with wolves in competition for the same food and for survival in an often hostile natural environment. The author brings amazing ideas to light about the "game of death" of predator and prey and made
...more
Alison
I enjoyed reading this book which contains some fascinating insights into the relationship between wolves and humans, both historically and now (althought the book is a bit dated now).

I confess to finding some parts very difficult to read as they were graphic details of some of the hunting techniques used against wolves. As an animal lover these were too distressing for me.

I thought the tone of the book was very well balanced - neither too 'pro-wolf' nor to 'anti-human'. It more than anything ma
...more
Sandy Hunter
I choose this book as a research source as I have a wolf character in a novel sequel I'm currently writing - in any case, I am always fascinated by the various wolf-myths and with learning more about who and what they really are.

The author wrote a truly satisfying, and eye-opening, study of both myth and beast. I was caught up immediately reading one of the introductory quotes chosen by this author,"In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extens
...more
Judith
I first heard of Barry Lopez when someone I knew recommended that I read Arctic Dreams. That book will always remain one of my favorites. There are moments in there that transcend anything other "nature writers" offer. This is because Lopez is always trying to see the world through the eyes of the animals, or at least doing his best to not let his own cultural conditioning get in the way.

In Of Wolves and Men, Lopez explores the subject of wolves from many viewpoints. He looks at the wolf in the
...more
Jennifer W.
Lopez is an incredibly gifted nature writer and this was the first book I had the opportunity to read from him in an american literature class in college! He is so skilled at weaving in fact and his own insights about the wolves he lived around and studied to paint a three dimensional picture of the lives of wolves. They are not just predators, and they're not like dogs, they are their own creature filled with the mysteries of their own little societies. They love and fight and hunt, it's amazin ...more
Paul
One of my favorite books from my college years. Thoughtfully ties together and reflects upon so many different perspectives, from folk tales to contemporary science and anthropology to give a truly comprehensive view of the complicated relationship between wolves and humans in both the biological world and the collective human psyche.
Fox
What a fantastic book.

I've long been in love with wolves, the idea of them and the truth behind them. Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez examines both our conceptions of wolves and the truth of how little we know of the creature. Myths are examined, legislation, and ethology.

This book neatly encompasses the bulk of what we know about wolves, what we think we know about them, and perhaps why we want to know more. It's one of the best books on the topic I've ever come across. I truly treasure this
...more
Jaren
Much of the book is fascinating. Some of it is overkill. Lopez is such a good writer that sometimes he gets a free ride when what he needs is to be reined in. Still, this book is excellent. His prose here is solid but lacks the elegant style of his more recent publications.
Kelly
This was recommended to me by a journalist who have covered environmental issues after I ranted to him about wolf hunting.

Lopez has an amazing way of creating a sense of place. The best messages I found were at the end: we have much to learn from observing truly-wild animals in their natural environment.

I got a little weighed down in the natural history aspect, much as I did with "The World Without Us." As with that book, I am sure it is more about my lack of knowledge and interest than the au
...more
June Licc
Well written overall and brings together many different viewpoints on the wolf - from the First Americans (Indians) to the pioneers ans even Old World texts. This book was lent to me by a friend before Christmas, so I was anxious to get it back to her. I tried to skimming the chapters in an attempt to speed up the process but the book was just too interesting to me not to read every word. This was the original edition of the book from the 1970's. I understand that the current edition has an upda ...more
Xminer
Oct 13, 2009 Xminer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Xminer by: Jane Wine Box
The book is organized in distinct sections regarding wolves: biology, natural history, wolves in mythology, wolves in literature. While this book is about wolves, much of it has do with humans and our relationships with wolves in context of the above mentioned sections. Lopez talks to modern day biologist, and Inuits, he talks to ranchers concern with wolves, both retired and working, and he sights and brings forth a lot literature and mythology humans have creating involving wolves.

If you are
...more
Erin McDonnell-Jones
I had higher hopes for this text, based on other reviews I had read. I picked it up because I love wolves, and have read everything I can get my hands on since I was a young girl. One of the best days of my life was when I saw the wolves running wild in Yellowstone National Park. However, the content of this book was (1) nothing new and (2) not what I expected. I had hoped for more information about his own observations and experiences. He dealt with a lot of myths and cultural lore, which was n ...more
Robert Binkowski
Includes scientific information as well as the wolf's place in various cultures, and the folktales and myths that surround the creature. Beautiful written.
Kane S.
Packed with photos and artwork from various cultures and time periods, it’s a comprehensive look at wolves from folklore and ancient myth to behavior and biology. The book made me aware how, not only wolves, but many species, as well as Native Americans, had been decimated in the U.S., particularly during an all-out pogrom in the 1880s. I came to have a deep admiration for coyotes as practically the lone survivors in the wild of the animals and people that once thrived in America.
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10262
Barry Holstun López is an American author, essayist, and fiction writer whose work is known for its environmental and social concerns.

López has been described as "the nation's premier nature writer" by the San Francisco Chronicle. In his non-fiction, he frequently examines the relationship between human culture and physical landscape, while in his fiction he addresses issues of intimacy, ethics an
...more
More about Barry López...
Arctic Dreams Crossing Open Ground About This Life Desert Notes/River Notes Winter Count

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“The wolf exerts a powerful influence on the human imagination. It takes your stare and turns it back on you” 8 likes
“Why we should believe in wolf children seems somehow easier to understand than the ways we distinguish between what is human and what is animal behavior. In making such distinctions we run the risk of fooling ourselves completely. We assume that the animal is entirely comprehensible and, as Henry Beston has said, has taken form on a plane beneath the one we occupy. It seems to me that this is a sure way to miss the animal and to see, instead, only another reflection of our own ideas.” 3 likes
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