Literature: Men and Wolves

Title: The Man Who Lives with Wolves // Author: Shaun Ellis, with Penny Junor // Publisher: Harmony Books // Pub. Date: October 2009 // 288 p.

Over the summer, one of my co-workers gave me environmental activist Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf as a gift. Published in 1963, Mowat’s book is a classic narrative of living among Arctic wolves. It’s also witty and caustic, written in true Farley Mowat style. This book sort of piqued my interest in wolves, so when I saw Shaun Ellis’s book out in November, I jumped at the chance to read it. In The Man Who Lives with Wolves, Ellis (star of the Animal Planet show Living with the Wolfman) writes about his deliberate run-ins with wolves. These encounters have scarred his body, strained his personal relationships, and pushed him to the limits of mental and physical exhaustion. Ellis, for example, ran for two years with a wolf pack in Idaho’s Nez Percé—eating fresh carcasses alongside them, protecting their pups, and learning how to communicate in yips and howls. Ellis’s writing style is less entertaining than Mowat’s, but his message about the importance of wolves in a balanced ecosystem is just as important as Mowat’s was when he introduced this topic to a modern audience. Both writers dispel the cultural myth of wolves as blood-thirsty creatures who maim and kill without reason, and Ellis’s story of his life among the wolves becomes the larger story of humans and animals living together on this planet. “Everything has a place in this world,” Ellis reminds us, “and we can’t be naïve enough to think we can safeguard ourselves if we let another species fail.”

To read my more in-depth book review of Shaun Ellis’s The Man Who Lives With Wolves on NewWest, click here.

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