Of Wolves and Men – Barry Holstun Lopez

Of Wolves and Men
Barry Holstun Lopez
Scribner, 1979
320 pages

You may wonder why I have this in the animal magic category since it’s a “mundane” book. However, this is an incredibly valuable text because it pinpoints the relationship between humanity and wolves, one which has had an incredible number of ups and downs. Additionally, Lopez’ research reveals a lot of observations that teach us to rethink how we consider other animals, and this is exceptionally valuable information to the animal magician.

This is THE classic book on wolf behavior. Even more recent books, such as The Wolf Almanac, draw heavily from it.

The first part discusses wolf biology and behavior, and disproves many of the myths–including the idea that nobody has ever been attacked by a healthy wolf in North America (nobody, apparently, thought to check with American Indian experience in history). It’s an incredibly thorough look at the wolf as a physical being and its natural history.

Then Lopez goes into the tangled thornbush of wolf mythology and folklore, how our stories shaped our attitudes, adn how these manifested into the reality of wholesale slaughter.

There’s a lot of heartbreaking information about wolf hunting, and just how devastated the wolf population has been. We are left amazed that the wolf has even survived. The final pages are a reminder that we are responsible for the effects we have on others, even if the “others” aren’t human.

Our treatment of the wolf mirrors our treatment of the wild; this is a must-read, and I highly recommend it to all people, regardless of path.

Five pawprints in the snow out of five.

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