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Wolf - Rebecca L. Grambo

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOR a comprehensive examination of one of nature’s most beautiful but misunderstood creatures, you need look no further than Rebecca L Grambo’s aptly entitled Wolf, a book that seeks to explore the wolf in legend, and as an enemy and an icon.

As such it’s both fascinating and enlightening and will undoubtedly explode many of the unjust myths surrounding these magnificent creatures. And it’s all thanks to Grambo’s meticulous research and highly informative text.

Moreover, her own observations are interspersed with those of highly respected contemporaries such as Peter Steinhardt, author of The Company of Wolves, who wrote: “Of all the rest of creation, wolves reflect our own images most dramatically, most realistically, and most intensely.”

You may, of course, disagree – until you read Part of the Pack, a chapter that deals with pack size and heirarchy – pups, for example, ‘start at the bottom of the heap and are frequently reminded to respect their elders’ (sound familiar?) – breeding and the care of cubs, communication and bonding. And here it even goes so far as to ask if bonds ‘ever extend to an outsider, a member of a different species, a human.’ There are numerous stories supporting this hypothesis, many from India, but as yet there is no concrete evidence.

But what makes Wolf so special are Daniel J Cox’ beautiful photographs that not only capture the wolf in all its many moods but also reinforce Grambo’s text by illustrating wolf behaviour. The cover image is a prime example. There are also portraits of individual wolves that serve only to showcase their beauty – and why not indeed? For here we can truly appreciate the colour of coats and eyes, light enhanced whiskers and moist pink tongues.

As well as Cox’ photographs, there are numerous illustrations – of carvings, broaches, masks, statues (most notably the famous bronze of Romulus and Remus which is now in Rome’s Capitoline Museum), even a Japanese Netsuke and rattle, plus drawings and old photographs – anything, in fact, that depicts a wolf.

If, like me, you appreciate and admire wolves, you’ll love this book. If not, it will certainly give you food for thought and, quite possibly, a change of heart. But whichever way you look at it, it is beautiful and certainly deserves attention, and as such, comes highly recommended.