Wolves occupy a special place in the hearts of Americans, commanding admiration for their beauty and respect for their fierce predatory skills. Although these animals are inextricably linked to the rugged identity of the West, Nate Blakeslee shows that the reality of human-wolf coexistence is complicated and uneasy. With the immediacy of a novel, American Wolf (Crown, $28) tracks “0-Six,” a charismatic alpha female descended from a pack reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995 (before which wolves had been hunted to near extinction). As she raises her cubs and faces down other wolves, 0-Six’s journey is depicted in meticulous and essential detail, providing the hook to a wider depiction of life in the northern Rockies. People feature prominently, including the watchers who track the wolf packs, the environmentalists who fought for their reintroduction, the ranchers losing livestock, and the hunters who resent the loss of elk, the wolves’ primary prey. Blakeslee is scrupulously fair in presenting the perspective of all those whose livelihoods are affected, and readers shouldn’t approach this expecting a “good guys, bad guys” narrative. Whatever conclusions you may reach, however, what stands out is the author’s esteem for an ancient species under pressure in the modern era.
American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West - Nate Blakeslee