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Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

Never Cry Wolf (original 1963; edition 1983)

by Farley Mowat

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1,711334,153 (4.1)1 / 163
Title:Never Cry Wolf
Authors:Farley Mowat
Info:Bantam USA (1983), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Natural History, Wolves, 1010CC

Work details

Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat (1963)

Recently added byBlueSPARTAN279, KristaAlyce, OJSB, jenfarley2001, private library, meaghann, KraatzE, albany

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English (31)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (33)
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Received via NetGalley and Open Road Media in exchange for an completely unbiased review.
Also posted on Silk & Serif

I have such a complicated opinion when it comes to Never Cry Wolf. On the one hand, Mowat changed the way people looked at the the mysterious wolf and developed the understanding that wolves are more in tune with nature than our own species seems to be. Unfortunately, Mowat goes about writing his novel in the wrong way: his tone is condescending, his stories meant to be entertaining only make him sound incapable and his constant complaining about his superiors "refusing" to help him do his job make him look rather pathetic. Regardless, Mowat's book is one of the first books to really capture a sliver of the social, predatory and familial behaviours of the enigmatic wolf and thus deserves some level of respect.

Never Cry Wolf is an easy read filled with what appear to be anecdotal tales of a man's experience living near a wolf den while on a government contract to study the "vicious beasts" that are wolves. Mowat explains to the reader how the initial understanding of the wolf was shaped by the political climate of the time rather than fact. He also links the violence that man enacted on the Caribou whose dwindling numbers were blamed on the insatiable wolf to this political struggle. He then provides stories and experiences as evidence of a kinder, gentler wolf with keen intelligence and anthropomorphic behaviours.

Upon some research it seems that Never Cry Wolf is a semi-ficiton which was written based on Mowat's experiences while studying various species in the Canadian arctic as a civil servant. I'm uncertain if this makes the book any more palatable for me considering the effects it had on the media image of the wolf. If anything it makes me concerned that people are naive enough to believe anything they read before doing some research or critical thinking.

Did I find it humourous? Definitely not. Do I think this belongs in education? Perhaps. The novel has value in educating people about the poor critical thinking skills our society fosters and it is a decent tale to dispose of bad image issues wolves seem to still inherit today. Was I entertained? Yes. I feel Never Cry Wolf is a fictional novel that change the way people looked at wolves and highlighted the errors in political thought during its years of publication. I think its an important book to read, but I also don't know if I would leap to the conclusion "classic".

This book will appeal to nature and animal lovers, conservationists, students and people who enjoy a good story with a flair of the dramatic. Although not a classic novel, there is wealth in reading this novel at least once in a lifetime. ( )
  trigstarom | Sep 19, 2015 |
Never Cry Wolf was a "must read" book in the 1970s, and I can't think of a person I knew who would admit not having read it. This new edition will not have the same broad reach or cultural importance, but a reader coming to it in 2015 should know that it is on many people's "Great Books" list, and that Farley Mowat (I have always loved that name.), primarily with Never Cry Wolf, helped shape the environmental movement (or perhaps "movements") that we know today.

Mr. Mowat's work is controversial because it is fictionalized. Many of his books, including Never Cry Wolf, are like films "based on a true story." Estimating the degree of fictionalization depends a bit on the politics of the critic and the Wikipedia article on NCW outlines the controversy. More detailed discussion of Mowat's background story can be found with a quick web search that will also bring up many obituaries and memorial tributes. Mowat was vocal and pugnacious about his ideas. He was denied entry to the USA in 1985, purportedly for his leftist leanings. He tells that story in the 1986 "My Discovery of America," now out of print.

Never Cry Wolf became so important in part because it is so very readable. Laugh out loud funny in places, it is warmly appealing to even the youngest reader. It is the kind of gift to give a child to induce book addiction. Anyone with any love of nature will like it, in part because it is so exotic.

Never Cry Wolf is set in a world we can't remember and can hardly imagine, one where naturalists retained direct methodological links with 19th century luminaries. A world where it is normal for naturalists and explorers (and, latterly, Peace Corps volunteers) to revel in fieldwork that kept them out of sight for months and years at a time. Today communication is too easy and our fear of the world is out of control. Grant-making agencies, and the organizations they fund, impose strict fieldwork safety guidelines, and Peace Corps has been sued into becoming a nanny agency tasked with reporting every time a Volunteer burps. It is nearly impossible to imagine naturalists and anthropologists who preferred, and were able to pull off, an uninterrupted scientific life.

This new edition of Never Cry Wolf includes a nice little Farley Mowat biography with photos that makes it even more appealing as a gift for a young person you are trying to subvert. It ignores the controversy surrounding the book and I think this is a bad choice by the publisher.

I received a review copy of Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat (Open Road) through NetGalley.com. ( )
  Dokfintong | Aug 21, 2015 |
I read this long time ago - not too long after the movie, I think. I do recall I liked it. Probably should read it again. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Bleh. One of the most uninteresting and horribly written book I've read in a while.

Want proof? It took me nearly a month to read this book.

Not only that, but its filled with blatant lies about wolves.

Example: According to this garbagebook, apparently wolves live off of mice. Coming from someone who knows little regarding wolves prior to reading this novel, I know for a fact that wolves do NOT only eat mice. What a ridiculous lie.

All in all, this book was a waste of my time. I appreciate that it tried to make people less afraid of wolves, but it sadly failed in that. ( )
  Summer_Missfictional | May 23, 2014 |
A very entertaining (and slightly frightening) look at how Canadian bureaucracy sends Farley as a young biologist off into the true northern wilderness to spend perhaps one to two years alone studying wolves. From the supplies they send with him you know they expect him to report that wolves are bad bad bad and you should kill kill kill them all so the hunters can have their caribou. Farley expects to find what he has been told he will find, the "Big Bad Wolf." Instead, very quickly, he finds something different.

Farley's time there is transformative. You could say he goes native a bit. His observations, research and studies were ground breaking.

This is absolutely a book worth reading 50 years after it first came out. ( )
1 vote RBeffa | May 14, 2014 |
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It is a long way in time and space from the bathroom of my Grandmother Mowat's house in Oakville, Ontario, to the bottom of a wolf den in the Barren Lands of central Keewatin, and I have no intention of retracing the entire road which lies between.
The caribou feeds the wolf, but it is the wolf who keeps the caribou strong.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316881791, Paperback)

More than a half-century ago the Canadian Wildlife Service assigned the naturalist Farley Mowat 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) and for a friendly Inuit tribe known as the Ihalmiut ("People of the Deer")-is a work that has become cherished by generations of readers, an indelible record of the myths and magic of wild wolves.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:34 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A biologist's official mission to study wolves turns up many unusual facts about their pattern of living.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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