The word “wolf” can definitely conjure up some strong images for people. “Menacing” and “predator” for some, “beautiful” and “regal” for others. For many, wolves became prey because of how they would inflict such destruction on livestock. Add a bounty on wolf pelts and the wolf was nearly hunted to extinction in the contiguous United States. Conservationists and hunting laws brought the wolf population back, but in the American West, where wolf population increased the most, and hunting is a common way of life, wolves remained in danger.
Author Nate Blakeslee follows one particular wolf known as O-Six and the conservationists who follow her and the hunters shooting wolves in her territory. O-Six becomes the ‘poster-child’ for wolf conservation with world-wide press picking up on her story, and a strong social media presence.
Blakeslee manages a magnificent job of offering multiple view points on the wolf perspective without telling the reader how to feel about the circumstances. I personally lean toward the wolf conservation myself so I was definitely most sympathetic to the plight of the wolves struggle to survive. However, I found the hunters’ stories quite interesting and none came away as villains.
I am not sure that this book changes anything – possibly my perception of one side of the wolf story. But I am not going to get up and make calls to my congresspeople or donate money to a conservation group or get my wolf-hunting license. This is just a story, presented and left open, which is interesting, but then leaves me with no strong feelings when I close the book. So what happens next? I go on to the next book, I guess.
Looking for a good book? Nate Blakeslee’s American Wolf is a well-written, well-researched look at the American wolf story, presenting a balanced perspective, but possibly does so at the risk of leaving the reader without any overwhelming reactions.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West
author: Nate Blakeslee
publisher: Crown Publishing Group
hardcover, 300 pages