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Of Wolves and Men

4.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,813 Ratings  ·  77 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
Apr 20, 2014 Kenneth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Anna
Apr 04, 2016 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, reviews
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
Kaia Gondron
Feb 16, 2011 Kaia Gondron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
...more
Josh
Jun 24, 2013 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
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
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Hilary
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
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Richard Reese
Mar 23, 2015 Richard Reese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Rachel M
Apr 20, 2015 Rachel M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
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
Sep 22, 2009 Dorothy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jordyn
Feb 11, 2016 Jordyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like this book it taught me a lot about wolves that I didn't know, and I love to learn about wolves.
Zach
Sep 28, 2015 Zach rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My journey with this book begins in Yellowstone. Late one night, my brother, a friend, and myself, accompanied by my red heeler dog, ventured up into the caldera for some star-gazing and camping. Instead of a restful sleep, we were stalked by a wolf who howled chillingly over and over as others joined in the chase. We made it back to our car and the night grew silent. The next day, driving through Shoshone, Wyoming, a woman was selling by the side of the road "Of Wolves and Men" by Barry Holstun ...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
Feb 14, 2015 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Radiantflux
28th book for 2016.

A beautiful meditation, as least as much about humanity's relation to the natural world, as to the wolf itself, the book remains fresh and provocative nearly 40 years after it's publication.

Perhaps nice to pair this with David Quammen's Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind, which also explores the relationships between people and predators, though with a different cast of characters (bear; crocodile; tiger; lion).

All in all one of th
...more
Jo
Feb 20, 2012 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Rodeck
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
Lisa
Jan 19, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was written in 1978, so the biology of wolves is a little out of date. But the focus, as the name would suggest is not just on wolves, but man's perception of wolves. A large portion is dedicated to what caused the extreme mass killings of wolves across the lower 48 states entirely eradicating wolves. It was not just enough to lower the numbers so that they were not eating cattle, they had to be completely wiped out. WHY? Barry Lopez explores this through first hand interviews with the ...more
Steve
Apr 07, 2015 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: midwest-authors
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
...more
Kris Irvin
Aug 18, 2012 Kris Irvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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
Dec 10, 2009 Andrea Olsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wolves
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
Apr 04, 2013 Alison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
Sep 09, 2012 Sandy Hunter) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 01, 2013 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
SarahLeeNotCake
Jul 08, 2016 SarahLeeNotCake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and beautiful read.
I went through a Barry Lopez phase years ago reading all his work but somehow this one always eluded me. But it was worth waiting for. This is one for anyone with an interest in animal behaviour and our dark history of mans interaction with nature through the ages. His descriptions of wolves are Lopez at his lyrical and poetic best. He really does have a wonderful turn of phrase and way of thinking. For example in questioning the sensitivity to the senses, just i
...more
Paul
Mar 24, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mary
Nov 17, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although this book was written in 1978, it speaks to today. I have chosen this book for my book club to read and I look forward to a good discussion about not only wolves and their place in our world, but also human's place in the world and our failure to recognize our shared destiny.
Jaren
Aug 23, 2014 Jaren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nikita
Mar 20, 2016 Nikita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book even though parts of it were difficult to read. I find wolves to be very interesting and this book was full of detail. The parts about what we have done to them is what saddened (and angered) me and were the difficult parts.
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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
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“The wolf exerts a powerful influence on the human imagination. It takes your stare and turns it back on you” 10 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.” 4 likes
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