Nate Blakeslee: The Wolf
I’ve just finished reading Nate Blakeslee’s The Wolf. I’ll read anything about wolves, but they’re a fascinating and compelling subject that is not necessarily matched by the quality of writing about them. This particular book is an exception, written by someone who was clearly entranced by the subject matter, in this case the incredible story of a female wolf – known as O-Six – who became the alpha female and hunter supreme for a wolf pack in the Lamarr Valley in northern Wyoming, close to Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone was ground zero for the controversial reintroduction of wolves into the USA, back in the mid-1990’s. Apart from a very small number of survivors in remote corners of northern Michigan and Montana, the wolf had been annihilated throughout the USA during the 19th and 20th century. By the end of World War Two they were all gone. In their absence, scientists studying ecosystems had come to the conclusion that ‘nature’, for want of a better term, was out of whack. In order to restore some sense of balance, it was argued that the wolves had to return. Not everyone was happy about this, but return they did, and they’ve thrived. So much so that now in some states the creature is no longer considered an Endangered Species and wolves are, once again, being shot as part of a ‘wolf management plan’ that some feel doesn’t go far enough, and others see as being, frankly, insane. Living in a country where the last wolf died over 300 years ago, it’s very easy for me to romanticise the wolf, and what it’s come to represent, and I make absolutely no apologies for that. I don’t have a ‘Bucket List’ (because, to me, buckets are where you put shit), but I do harbour a yearning to one day go back to Canada or the USA, and get out into the remote territories where I might see wolves in the wild. One day…
Anyway, the above mock-up cover uses the pencils I did for a 2015 painting that is long since lost. I know you can’t really top this:
which is the cover to the UK paperback edition. It’s a great book, to be read alongside Barry Lopez’s classic Of Wolves And Men and Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf.
And, while I’m here: