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190 × 135 × 14 mm
200 pages
93 illustrations, 63 in colour
01 Oct 2011
  • £14.95

Wolf Garry Marvin

Feared, reviled and revered, the wolf has always evoked powerful emotions in humans. It has been admired as a powerful hunter; feared for the threat it is imagined to pose to humans; reviled for its depredations on domestic livestock and revered as a potent symbol of the wild.

Wolf explores the ways in which indigenous hunting societies respected the wolf as a fellow hunter and how, with the domestication of animals, the wolf became regarded as an enemy because of attacks on livestock. Such attacks led to the wolf’s reputation as a creature of evil in many human cultures. Alone or in packs, farmers hated wolves. In children's and other popular literature, they became the intruder from the wild preying on the innocent. So powerful is the image of the wolf in the human imagination that it became the creature that evil humans can transform into - the dreaded werewolf.

Garry Marvin shows how the ways in which wolves are imagined has had far-reaching implications for how actual wolves are treated. Fear of this enigmatic creature eventually led to an attempt to eradicate it as aspecies. However, with the development of scientific understanding of wolves and their place in ecological systems and the growth of popular environmentalism, the wolf has been re-thought and re-imagined. Still hated by some, the wolf now has new supporters who regard it as a charismatic creature of the newly valued wild and wilderness.

The book investigates the latest scientific understanding of the wolf, as well as its place in literature, history and folklore, and synthesises a huge range of material to offer insights into our changing attitudes to wolves.

‘Reaktions wonderful series of studies of single animals just keeps on truckin. This entry, Wolf, is a scientific and cultural look at an animal that has always evoked strong emotions. Once loathed as a predator of livestock and feared as the stuff of fairy-tale nightmare (come on down, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolfman), for many, the wolf is now idealized, the very model of a good citizen: devoted spouse, loving parent, reliable pack-mate, charismatic archetype of the vanishing wilderness . . . the book is crammed with art and photographs, from wolf masks, to hunters displaying wolf carcasses to a Comanche channelling a lupine spirit.’ — Globe and Mail, Toronto

‘beautifully illustrated . . . The author chases the wolf, sheepily disguised or not, through classical literature, religious text and fable, political allegory, painting and (as werewolves) in horror lore. Thanks to a modern rewilding movement, we may be living in an age where wolf love for once greatly outweighs wolf hatred.’ — Guardian

‘This elegant little book is a treasury of extreme opinions. It traces the history of the species traumatic relationship with humanity, focusing mainly on America where so much of the best science and descriptive writing have originated and where the wolf has been so peculiarly persecuted.’ — BBC Wildlife magazine

‘This is a richly illustrated and fascinating account and Marvin, as befits a Professor of HumanAnimal Studies, takes the wolf not only as an animal but also, critically, as a human cultural creation. The two are inextricably linked, a central theme of the book . . . a much awaited and key addition to this splendid series.’ — Anthrozoös

‘it is clear from this exquisitely researched and carefully structured book that our perception of canis lupis is a complex one . . . it probes much deeper and into a fascinating well of ideas, namely how cultural beliefs shape our opinions and emotions when it comes to this particular carnivore . . . Some truly beautiful illustrations give a pictorial insight into how the wolf has been maligned.’ — Wolf Print (magazine of the UK Wolf Conservation Trust)

‘Garry Marvins fascinating book traces the existence of wolves from their emergence from earlier canids some 2 million years ago. He explains that for more than 99.9% of the wolfs life on Earth it has stood as a supreme pack predator at the head of food chains all over the world often respected and even revered by humanity.’ — Journal of Animal Ethics

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Garry Marvin is Professor of Human-Animal Studies in the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Roehampton, London. He has published widely in the field of animal studies and is one of the founding editors of the journal Journeys: The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing.


1. Canis lupus
2. Lupophobia
3. Lupicide
4. Lupophilia
5. Rewilding

Timeline of the Wolf
Select Bibliography
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements