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Of Wolves and Men

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4.25  ·  Rating details ·  2,530 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Originally published in 1978, this classic exploration of humanity’s complex relationship with and understanding of wolves returns with a new afterword by the author.

Humankind's relationship with the wolf is the sum of a spectrum of responses ranging from fear to admiration and affection. Lopez’s classic, careful study has won praise from a wide range of reviewers and impr
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 1st 1979 by Scribner (first published 1978)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  2,530 ratings  ·  122 reviews


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Anna
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
David Schaafsma
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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Kenneth
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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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Josh
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Kaia Gondron
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
“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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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
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Gill
Jul 12, 2016 rated it liked it
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
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
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Jo
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Adam
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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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Zach
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Richard Reese
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
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Mark
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
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David
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Perifian
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Judith
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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Kris Irvin
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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Dorothy
Jul 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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Elisa
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Anna
Jun 10, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Matt
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nearly forty years later, my only wish is that Lopez had continued updating this book, one of his first clear looks into the order of the natural world and how we as humans insist on disrupting it.

In the case of wolves? Because we're afraid. Because we're prone to lying to ourselves, placing blame for events on the wolves when truly it was our doing (our greed, usually) all along. Because we seemingly intrinsically have this need to eradicate other apex predators, as if they were truly a threat
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Bill
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: eco, teaching
Interesting look at the wolf from multiple perspectives: a scientific overview of wolf behavior; an historical account of wolf hunting in the United States; a discussion of representations of the wolf in European and Native American culture, etc. The book feels a bit dated (it was written in 1978), and in many places, Lopez makes sweeping claims (about, for example, the culture of the Middle Ages -- as if it were one unified thing -- and about the religious practices of Native American tribes) w ...more
Sunshine
Jun 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Lopez had a way with prose that is unique and delightful. In this naturalist work of non-fiction he explores in explicit detail human's and their relationship to wolves. While the facts and details of this book are well researched and extensive, I found my interest lagging. This is a deep-dive into wolf lore and it's use and context throughout history and literature that seemed to somewhat sail over my head. While I found it interesting, I did not find it stimulating. If I were to point to the o ...more
Karina
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful and scholarly account of how human interpretation of wolves has changed throughout time and across cultures. The human-wolf relationship is such a nuanced one. While I enjoyed reading about wolf biology, the history of human-wolf interactions within this book was even more eye-opening. How cruel we've been to wolves! Truly, we all have more to learn when it comes to respecting animals other than ourselves. This book taught me so much, and its ideas will definitely stay with m ...more
Dan Carpenter
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
The sections of the book are essentially as follows:
Wolves according to scientists
Wolves according to Native Americans and Eskimos
Wolves according to people who hate wolves and want them dead
Wolves as seen through history
Wolves as portrayed in children's literature

I was under the impression that this would be a in depth scientific analysis of wolves and their evolutionary history with humans. As such, only the first section was interesting to me and i found myself skimming the rest.

If you are i
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Joseph Carrabis
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read Of Wolves and Men about a year before reading Lopez's Arctic Dreams. I'm not sure which one he wrote first. They are both excellent reads, both a wondrous blend of ecology, environmentalism, philosophy, sociology, psychology and frustration. As I wrote in my review of Arctic Dreams, Lopez is a gifted narrator with a strong voice. Excellent and suggested reading.
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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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“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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