[books] Never Cry Wolf: The Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic WolvesAuthor Farley Mowat – Gsagency.co

This is a book I both love and hate I love it because I love wolves and this is a well written, entertaining story about wolves I hate it s made up from start to finish, yet the tagline on the cover says, The incredible true story of life among Arctic wolves Let s get one thing straight Never Cry Wolf is fiction Made up Fabricated And quite a lot of it is, at least in terms of factual accuracy, horseshit Mowat knew a lot about life in the Arctic, but he didn t know much about wolves.What he knew, he admired This was in the early 1960 s, when a lot of people were bent on systematically eradicating the wolf as a species If I remember correctly from reading a long ago interview with him, Mowat fully intended his book to be pro wolf propaganda As such, it probably succeeded it sank deep into the public consciousness of wolves, and surely helped the great turnaround of the wolf s image in the western world Its fundamental thesis was wolves are okay, and that badly needed saying at the time.Trouble is, now that big truth is largely accepted, we re still stuck with all the little lies The pendulum has swung the other way A wolf handler friend of mine puts it nicely wolves are the new dolphins all too often seen as the incarnation of Nature s goodness, wisdom and beauty Mowat helped convince two generations that wolves are sweet natured beasts with strong family values and a natural place in the ecosystem Unfortunately he forgot to mention that they re also damn great bloodthirsty beasts with strong territorial and dominance drives, a propensity to roam long distances, and a large appetite for ungulate flesh As a wolf biologist said, despairing of educating the public, We ll never get past Never Cry Wolf Never Cry Wolf has served its day It s a fine good story, with a strong emotional plotline as the narrator gets ever involved with the wolves, and a nice line in laconic Canadian humour, but I ll never be able to stomach it while it s marketed as An Incredible True Story. I picked this up due to fond memories of viewing the 1983 movie in biology class In this 1963 book, naturalist Farley Mowat chronicles his experiences observing wolves in the Canadian barrenlands 1948 49 I have mixed feelings about the book On the plus side it presented a positive image of wolves and stirred interest in their preservation However, as a scientist I m put off by the embellishments Mowat throws in both to make the story entertaining and to sway the reader toward his point of view even though I hold similar beliefs.There are some non fiction books where stretching the truth doesn t bother me An example of this is Bill Bryson s travel writing Bryson will embellish in order to capture the essence of a person or place, or to add humor But I m not expecting a historical account of what happened on his trip one of the reasons I read Bryson is to get his impressions, rather than an absolutely factual account.With wildlife observation, on the other hand, I d like an author to exercise some scientific rigor Mowart has defended his approach by positing that we should never let facts interfere with the truth I d counter this with a quote from another biologist Thomas Henry Huxley The great tragedy of Science the slaying of a beatiful hypothesis by an ugly fact In other words, don t get so attached to your theories you ignore the facts.In the end this book made me want to read a accurate book about wolves A recent read of Chandler Brett s excellent novel A Sheltering Wilderness, the first volume of his projected Wolf Code trilogy, brought to mind this nonfiction book which I read decades ago, and which is a groundbreaking classic in the field study of wolves in the wild My wife and I read it together, and both found it not only fascinating but enormously educational It s one of many pre Goodreads nonfiction books I haven t made time to review until now and in the meantime, like most of those, I d slapped a three star rating on it to indicate that I liked it But the reflection of a review quickly convinced me that five stars are justified it would be true to say that Barb and I both really liked it, but also true that the information Mowat imparts is at times genuinely amazing.The late Mowat he died in 2014 was, during almost all the decades I ve been alive, Canada s premiere naturalist, and the author of numerous books written to share his research with the general public This one is one of his earliest books, and most popular it was actually adapted in 1983 as a feature film, though from what little I ve seen of the latter, it doesn t follow the book very closely , and describes his very first field research assignment, just out of college and newly employed by the Canadian government s Dominion Wildlife Service At that time, the politically influential sport hunting lobby, whose members were concerned about diminishing kills from their caribou hunting, was convinced that predation by wolves was the cause of the decline in the caribou population, and was pressuring the government to pursue an aggressive policy of wolf eradication Mowat was sent to the Keewatin Barren Lands of Canada s Northwest Territory an area where gray wolves and caribou shared habitat , ostensibly to study wolf caribou interaction, but really with the pretty much baldly stated goal of bringing back a report that would prove the hunting lobby s contention and justify the policy they were advocating.The body of the book is a detailed account of his life that summer in the sub arctic Canadian wild, and his close observations of the behavior and interactions of a pack of wolves whose den was quite close to his camp If you believe the stereotypical image of wolves, handed down from ancient and medieval writers in a culture that automatically feared wolves but never bothered to study them, and reinforced by equally ignorant modern propagandists, you ll be in for some considerable surprises Yes, they are carnivores, with everything that implies So, for that matter, are our pet dogs and cats and not many humans are vegetarians, either But they re not the slavering, vicious monsters out to kill anything that moves depicted in popular portrayals They never showed any aggression toward the author even when, on one occasion, he crawled into the den with, unbeknown to him at the time, two wolves in it , and they respected his space once he marked his territory with urine, the same way that they did It turns out that in fact there has never been a documented case in all history of a human being attacked by a healthy wolf rabid animals of any species, of course, are a different phenomenon They re intelligent and playful animals, who mate for life and display highly cooperative social interactions in their packs Oh, and that wholesale slaughter of caribou herds under the bloody fangs of ravening wolves Doesn t happen A wolf pack can occasionally bring down a single caribou but the individuals they re able to fell are typically the aged, sick or infirm, whose fate is sad for that individual but leaves grazing for the healthy members of the herd The First Nations saying about the subject is that Wolves make the caribou strong, rather than the reverse The animal that furnishes the staple bulk of their diet is actually the field mouse, so they re rather helpful to humans in terms of vermin control Mowat field tested that diet on himself, to prove that it could sustain a large mammal in good condition, and developed several recipes in that successful experiment he shares the one for souris a la creme creamed mice here, but Barb and I didn t try it It also turns out that the decline in the caribou population was mainly driven by illegal hunting at the hands of humans.One of the most intriguing discoveries Mowat details here grew out of his interactions with the local Inuit people, especially Ootek, who became a friend Ootek was the son of a shaman and a minor shaman himself, and something of an expert on wolves as a five year old child, he d been deliberately left for 24 hours with a pack of wolves the pups had played with him and the adults sniffed him but didn t harm him and the author eventually discovered that his friend believed the wolves could verbally communicate factual information to each other by their howls, barks, etc Not only that, but Ootek could actually understand a good deal of this language himself This belief was also not unique to Ootek it was quite common among the area s natives Mowat s reaction to this was as skeptical as yours probably is, and as mine was until there were incidents, recorded in the book, that convinced both the author and I that what Ootek claimed is the sober truth To my knowledge, this discovery has never been seriously followed up by other researchers, and I absolutely think it should be it s the kind of thing that cries out for to be known Mowat writes with a wonderfully snarky sense of humor in many places which make the book a delight to read, and never boring but he s also clearly very serious about his love for nature and the professionalism and scientific acumen with which he approached the study of wildlife, and these wolves in particular And his tone can change in places to deadly earnest, and wrenchingly moving As demagogic politicians and prejudiced constituencies today continue their cries to press the War on Wolves to the point of extinction, this book is if anything timely and relevant than it was when it was first published It opened my eyes, and I hope it will open the eyes of many readers. We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer which is, in reality, no than a reflected image of ourselfFarley Mowat, Never Cry WolfOne of those books that if fun to review because my feelings about it change depending on how I look at it As a pure book of science reporting writing, it is probably a noble failure As a influential environmental book, it is probably a wild success.It is controversial STILL and entertaining STILL and a piece of shit scat and a piece of art My kids loved it for all the wrong reasons and I probably hate parts of it for all the wrong reasons So, yes, I m glad I read it, but I also recognize that it wasn t perfect sorry, not many Darwins out there. A friend who d read this, gave me a copy to read in the summer of 1976 and I was riveted I love the true story of a man who goes to study wolf behavior for the Canadian government and finds the unexpected I got very attached to those wolves, and learned a great deal about wolf behavior I don t want to give away what happens, but want to say that although most of the story is very entertaining, told with great wit, and has many very humorous parts, I did cry also I ve reread this book several times and never cease to enjoy it Readers 11 up can enjoy this book. Crazy, but absolutely amazing Mowat moves in next to a pack of wolves observes them His description of marking his territory with the help of several pots of tea how the alpha male managed the same feat with a single pass, showing far better control, is both funny exhilarating He s cut off a part of their path as his territory, sits there weaponless participates with them at their level That pretty much describes the book It s fascinating. I d forgotten how good this book was It s funny, educational, heartbreaking It s a must read for anyone who likes the environment, north woods, wolves, or science as Mowat finds out that everything he d been taught was wrong.In the 1950s, Mowat finds himself tasked to learn about the wolves of the north woods which are supposedly wiping out the caribou population The wolves are ferocious are killing wantonly everyone says so In a series of hilarious events, he finds himself alone in the wilderness takes up wolf watching What he finds is fantastic completely at odds with common lore While he anthropomorphizes the wolves a little too much, he certainly does them justice shows the real culprits.This was very well narrated just a fantastic read in this format I can t recommend it highly enough. More Than A Half Century Ago The Naturalist Farley Mowat Was Sent To Investigate Why Wolves Were Killing Arctic Caribou Mowat S Account Of The Summer He Lived In The Frozen Tundra Alone Studying The Wolf Population And Developing A Deep Affection For The Wolves Who Were Of No Threat To Caribou Or Man Is Today Celebrated As A Classic Of Nature Writing, At Once A Tale Of Remarkable Adventures And Indelible Record Of Myths And Magic Of Wolves This book was originally written in 1963 and my 30th anniversary edition had a new preface by the author in which he said his practice wasnever to allow facts to interfere with the truthhumor has a vital place in helping us understand our lives So do we allow this statement to color our judgment of this book Is it a true story or an embellished one or a totally made up one Did Mowat really go into the wild and live with wolves the way he said he did Did he see the behaviors he described or did he imagine them from the warmth of a paneled office somewhere Does it really matter Some people will say yes, others will say no I am somewhere in the middle When I first read that preface I wonderedcould I believe this man But I have read and thoroughly enjoyed so many other titles by this author that it doesn t matter I loved the story of his time observing wolves in the wild Mowat made me laugh mostly at his own foolishness he made me wish I could see wolves in person myself he made me dream a bit And that was exactly what I had hoped for when i began the book. Farley Mowat s Never Cry Wolf is a classic of environmental, wildlife and adventure literature beautifully written, funny and moving all the way to its gorgeous final pages, which, I admit, made me cry.A marvelous film of the same title was made from this book in 1983, which I would also highly recommend, if you ve never seen it Of course, it s no substitute for this book, but is excellent in its own right.The book starts out as a sort of MASH like satire on the nonsensical bureaucracies of the Canadian government, as field scientist Mowat finds himself on the floor of the desolate frozen tundra after a harrowing ride in a spit and gum plane helmed by an eccentric pilot Set down there with an impossibly massive bulk of expensive government scientific and survival gear and some foul clandestine hooch, Mowat s mission is one that is decidedly anti wolf In the course of gathering data about wolf behavior that is ostensibly designed to prove them to be senseless, bloodthirsty, excessively destructive killing machines and thus justifiable fodder for destruction themselves Mowat instead finds them to be social, highly evolved beings whose imprint on the environment is light and beneficial.Debate over the authenticity of this book has raged for decades, and it s hard to know how much of it is true or made up out of whole cloth But Mowat did something that needed doing, and that s to bring the debate on wolves closer to a sane center instead of the histrionic mythological extreme that has consigned wolves and other animals to the reckless bent of murderous humans for so long.Mowat s voice is a bemused one, a tad smug perhaps He is the arrogant, snarky know it all guy who is so funny and erudite that you can forgive his arrogant, snarky know it allness You gotta love it when someone refers to his own farting as my demon drummer of the nether depths The book is a gem, awe inspiring and evocative, and a thoroughly delightful read Kr Ky, with slight changes in 2016