American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee
(Crown Publishing ~ October 17, 2017)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Stunningly addictive, this nonfiction account of wolves, Yellowstone and humanity reads like a fictional account of dueling mob families in a turf war. A must-read for nature lovers and hunters alike.
Thanks to Crown Publishing for providing me with a free advance copy of this book for review purposes.
Nate Blakeslee has done what very few writers can. He has taken a group of wild animals and created an epic drama surrounding their lives ~ a drama that reads entirely like fiction or the best type of biography. I honestly didn’t think it was possible for an almost-300-page tome about wolves to be a page turner, but it truly, truly is. Blakeslee includes just the right balance between the people and politics surrounding the wolves with the actions of the actual wolves to ensure that readers understand just how perilous this animal’s survival chances are. And really, the survival chances of any wild animals in the United States. The stories in this book about Yellowstone and the federal and state agencies regulating the park and wildlife honestly make me despair about the way our nation is run on an entirely new level. Bureaucracy trumps nature at every single turn, but the hearts of those dedicated to protecting wolves give me hope.
Required reading for nature lovers, hunters, and anyone who loves quality nonfiction. This is one of the best out there.
Now, a little bit about my background coming into this book so you can understand my unbridled love for it. First of all, I read National Geographic cover to cover every single month. Nature writing is my THING. Next, we live in rural Wisconsin and the hunting/preservation topic is always close by. In addition, my family has a major wolf obsession due to my son’s extreme interest in them ~ he currently has 8 stuffed wolves that he has with him at all times, a wolf mask, posters, calendars, blankets, and countless books on this topic. The arrival of this book in my household as an advance copy was a cause for great celebration, and I can not wait for my husband and son to get to share it next. My husband also has family in Wyoming and is an avid hunter ~ we have always had spirited conversations about wildlife management, and this book just adds to our discussion fodder.
One of my favorite reads of 2017.
For an update on this topic, see Blakeslee’s October 6, 2017 WSJ article “The Plight of the West’s Wolves”