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Of Wolves and Men

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  2,656 ratings  ·  141 reviews
The 1978 classic on man and nature returns in this special twenty-fifth-anniversary edition, featuring a new afterword that assesses how far we’ve advanced in our understanding of other creatures and our efforts to conserve the environment.

Humankind's relationship with the wolf is the sum of a spectrum of responses ranging from fear to admiration and affection. Lopez’s cla
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 25th 2004 by Scribner (first published 1978)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,656 ratings  ·  141 reviews

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Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews, favorites
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
Dave Schaafsma
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
“I am in a small cabin outside Fairbanks, Alaska, as I write these words. The cold sits down like iron here, and the long hours of winter darkness cause us to leave a light on most of the day. Outside, at thirty below, wood for the stove literally pops apart at the touch of the ax. I can see out across the short timber of the taiga when I am out there in the gray daylight.”

I read Of Wolves and Men the same year I read Lopez's Arctic Dreams; the latter was a gift from my mentor and teacher, a sch
Apr 20, 2014 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
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Kaia Gondron
Feb 01, 2011 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
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
Jul 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Very interesting in most parts. A lot of detail. Lopez covers all aspects of wolves and of their relationship to people. There was a large section about killing wolves. Yes, it was relevant, but I found it hard to read because I found it distasteful. There's a very nice section near the end about wolves in tales and fables.
Sophy H
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: outdoor-nature
A fantastically well written book about a subject I love, wolves.

Wolves are to me magical, revered, skillful, misunderstood, beautiful creatures. Which makes it all the more shameful that we, our shitty human species, has captured, ensnared, maimed, tortured, poisoned, slaughtered and almost completely decimated the wolf populations of the world over. What is the matter with us??????? Why are we so intent on grounding animal species into submission and degradation???????

Barry Lopez, though he
Feb 20, 2012 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.
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
Richard Reese
Mar 23, 2015 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
Sep 28, 2015 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
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find wolves fascinating, so I am glad I read this nonfiction classic from the late 70s. This would make a perfect companion piece to American Wolf. My only quibble, was the wolf folklore section. It went on far to long, otherwise I recommend it to any nature lovers.
Nancy Lewis
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wolves
It can't be emphasized too strongly that the wolf simply goes about his business; and men select only those (few) things the wolf does that interest them to pay attention to.

We do not know very much at all about animals. We cannot understand them except in terms of our own needs and experiences.

We seem eager to be corrected, to know how wrong our ideas about wolves have been, how complex the creature really is, how ultimately unfathomable.
David Rush
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In one sense Of Wolves and Men is not really so much about wolves, rather wolves are the alien species Lopez uses to expose how Mankind tries to understand the world, and how fear and misunderstand and plain stupidity inform that understanding (or more accurately our mis-understanding)

The broad stories he uses are Native American and more recent Eskimo view of wolves, Western folklore’s influence on our modern approach to wolves and some actual scientific information about wolves.

BUT I think th
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An extraordinary book, one that I must highly recommend not only for anyone with an interest in wolves, but also for anyone interested in humanity’s complicated and often frustrating history with wildlife. The first section of the book, giving as complete a description of the wolf as is possible, is the most enjoyable to read, and will debunk many of the common misconceptions popular knowledge insists on. The following sections detail different aspects of how human civilizations have (mis)unders ...more
R. Vazquez
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The image that stays with me after having read this book is that of an Arctic wolf racing across a wide snow-covered plain while being chased by a low-flying helicopter. The so-called “hunter” (in this case a man with enough money to commission a helicopter pilot to fly him close enough to the Arctic shelf to get a safe, comfortable, and unobstructed view of his prey) pulls the trigger and a shot rings out. Immediately the wolf’s white flank blooms red. The wound slows the wolf’s pace, but he ke ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is as old as I am but is only slightly dated. My favorite parts were the first two sections, about wolf behavior then about the intersection between wolves and Native Americans. The third section --- about Western attempts to eradicate wolves off the face of the earth --- was a much tougher read.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Could've been written better, but I feel it was a fine introduction to a greater topic, and it made me cry and whimper a couple of times. ...more
Mar 26, 2012 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
Kris Irvin
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 10, 2008 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
Rachel M
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Cody McCoy
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As Barry Lopez wrote, if you want a rigorous book about wolves-- "you might as well expect rigor of clouds." This is a wide-ranging tome, which opens with a charming section on wolves themselves-- their behavior, biology, and unpredictability. As the book progresses it adopts a heavy emphasis on the "Men" half of "Of Wolves and Men." That is, how have wolves figured in our public consciousness, state extermination programs, mythology, and legend? As an animal person myself, I found the parts on ...more
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned more about wolves, wolf stories, wolf history, wolf folklore, wolf physiology, basically everything about wolves than... Well I guess I didn't know I wanted to know that much about wolves but after now reading it, I am not sorry I did. The part that shocked me the most was just how almost pathological the need to kill all wolves was in this country and I see now how that fear and anger is still present today. Fascinating book! I especially liked the parts that tied into Native American ...more
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature, non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book - particularly the chapters recounting the wolf's history through myth and literature. The hardest-to-read chapters were the ones recounting the many tortures mankind has inflicted upon the wolf. Some of these sections were stomach-turning and emotionally heart-wrenching. What surprised me the most about this book was that there was not more on convergent evolution and the early history of men and wolves. Still, it was a fascinating book and a terrific read. ...more
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. ...more
David Kessler
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This thoroughly researched book covers the sad history of man trying his hardest to eliminate the wolf and in a another major portion of the book, Barry Lopez just dips into the mythology and literature and how man looked at this creature and how it should be treated, with malice.

Asta Schmitz
3,5 stars. I was looking for a book on wolf behaviour and this book seemed to fit the bill but it's actually more a work of anthropology than it is wildlife literature. As the title implies, it's about how humans have related to wolves throughout the ages and the consequences that entailed for the wolf. The first part is about Native Americans and Inuit and their interactions with and beliefs about wolves, the middle part is about the systematic extermination of the wolf by modern Americans and ...more
Hilary De
Of Men's Onslaught on Wolves

Disappointing. I have absolutely no quarrel with the author's style of writing, nor his authority on the subject matter. On the contrary, Lopez is extremely capable: he is erudite and has researched the literature on wolves in depth. But the description of this book is misleading. As someone who is very interested in wolves and has an affinity for them, I would not have bought the book had I known that its focus is on the shameful history of man's treatment of these s
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Barry Holstun Lopez is an American author, essayist, and fiction writer whose work is known for its environmental and social concerns.

Lopez 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

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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
66 likes · 11 comments
“The wolf exerts a powerful influence on the human imagination. It takes your stare and turns it back on you” 13 likes
“I remember sitting in this cabin in Alaska one evening reading over the notes of all these encounters, and recalling Joseph Campbell, who wrote in the conclusion to 'Primitive Mythology' that men do not discover their gods, they create them. So do they also, I thought, looking at the notes before me, create their animals.” 8 likes
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