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Never Cry Wolf

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164 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1963

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About the author

Farley Mowat

111 books575 followers
Farley McGill Mowat was a conservationist and one of Canada's most widely-read authors.

Many of his most popular works have been memoirs of his childhood, his war service, and his work as a naturalist. His works have been translated into 52 languages and he has sold more than 14 million books.

Mowat studied biology at the University of Toronto. During a field trip to the Arctic, Mowat became outraged at the plight of the Ihalmiut, a Caribou Inuit band, which he attributed to misunderstanding by whites. His outrage led him to publish his first novel, People of the Deer (1952). This book made Mowat into a literary celebrity and was largely responsible for the shift in the Canadian government's Inuit policy: the government began shipping meat and dry goods to a people they previously denied existed.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship RV Farley Mowat was named in honour of him, and he frequently visited it to assist its mission.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,336 reviews
17 reviews7 followers
April 19, 2008
This is a book I both love and hate. I love it because I love wolves and this is a well-written, entertaining story about wolves. I hate it's made up from start to finish, yet the tagline on the cover says, "The incredible true story of life among Arctic wolves."

Let's get one thing straight: Never Cry Wolf is fiction. Made up. Fabricated. And quite a lot of it is, at least in terms of factual accuracy, horseshit. Mowat knew a lot about life in the Arctic, but he didn't know much about wolves.

What he knew, he admired. This was in the early 1960's, when a lot of people were bent on systematically eradicating the wolf as a species. If I remember correctly from reading a long-ago interview with him, Mowat fully intended his book to be pro-wolf propaganda. As such, it probably succeeded: it sank deep into the public consciousness of wolves, and surely helped the great turnaround of the wolf's image in the western world. Its fundamental thesis was "wolves are okay," and that badly needed saying at the time.

Trouble is, now that big truth is largely accepted, we're still stuck with all the little lies. The pendulum has swung the other way. A wolf-handler friend of mine puts it nicely: "wolves are the new dolphins" -- all too often seen as the incarnation of Nature's goodness, wisdom and beauty. Mowat helped convince two generations that wolves are sweet-natured beasts with strong family values and a natural place in the ecosystem. Unfortunately he forgot to mention that they're also damn' great bloodthirsty beasts with strong territorial and dominance drives, a propensity to roam long distances, and a large appetite for ungulate flesh. As a wolf biologist said, despairing of educating the public, "We'll never get past Never Cry Wolf!"

Never Cry Wolf has served its day. It's a fine good story, with a strong emotional plotline as the narrator gets ever more involved with the wolves, and a nice line in laconic Canadian humour, but I'll never be able to stomach it while it's marketed as "An Incredible True Story."

Profile Image for Lori.
308 reviews99 followers
February 3, 2018
Mowat was proud that he never let facts get in the way of storytelling.
Profile Image for Murray.
Author 151 books546 followers
April 17, 2023
A magnificent book on what wolves are truly like, beyond the politics and superstition and misunderstandings. An insightful study by a Canadian author with many first hand stories of wolves in the Canadian and Arctic wilderness. A good companion piece to Wisdom of Wolves 🐺 ✨ ✨ ✨
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books598 followers
January 31, 2017
A recent read of Chandler Brett's excellent novel A Sheltering Wilderness, the first volume of his projected Wolf Code trilogy, brought to mind this nonfiction book which I read decades ago, and which is a groundbreaking classic in the field study of wolves in the wild. My wife and I read it together, and both found it not only fascinating but enormously educational. It's one of many pre-Goodreads nonfiction books I haven't made time to review until now; and in the meantime, like most of those, I'd slapped a three-star rating on it to indicate that I liked it. But the reflection of a review quickly convinced me that five stars are justified; it would be true to say that Barb and I both really liked it, but also true that the information Mowat imparts is at times genuinely amazing.

The late Mowat (he died in 2014) was, during almost all the decades I've been alive, Canada's premiere naturalist, and the author of numerous books written to share his research with the general public. This one is one of his earliest books, and most popular (it was actually adapted in 1983 as a feature film, though from what little I've seen of the latter, it doesn't follow the book very closely), and describes his very first field research assignment, just out of college and newly employed by the Canadian government's Dominion Wildlife Service. At that time, the politically influential sport hunting lobby, whose members were concerned about diminishing kills from their caribou hunting, was convinced that predation by wolves was the cause of the decline in the caribou population, and was pressuring the government to pursue an aggressive policy of wolf eradication. Mowat was sent to the Keewatin Barren Lands of Canada's Northwest Territory (an area where gray wolves and caribou shared habitat), ostensibly to "study" wolf-caribou interaction, but really with the pretty much baldly stated goal of bringing back a report that would "prove" the hunting lobby's contention and justify the policy they were advocating.

The body of the book is a detailed account of his life that summer in the sub-arctic Canadian wild, and his close observations of the behavior and interactions of a pack of wolves whose den was quite close to his camp. If you believe the stereotypical image of wolves, handed down from ancient and medieval writers in a culture that automatically feared wolves but never bothered to study them, and reinforced by equally ignorant modern propagandists, you'll be in for some considerable surprises. Yes, they are carnivores, with everything that implies. (So, for that matter, are our pet dogs and cats --and not many humans are vegetarians, either.) But they're not the slavering, vicious monsters out to kill anything that moves depicted in popular portrayals. They never showed any aggression toward the author (even when, on one occasion, he crawled into the den with, unbeknown to him at the time, two wolves in it!), and they respected his space once he marked his territory with urine, the same way that they did. It turns out that in fact there has never been a documented case in all history of a human being attacked by a healthy wolf (rabid animals of any species, of course, are a different phenomenon). They're intelligent and playful animals, who mate for life and display highly cooperative social interactions in their packs. Oh, and that wholesale slaughter of caribou herds under the bloody fangs of ravening wolves? Doesn't happen. A wolf pack can occasionally bring down a single caribou; but the individuals they're able to fell are typically the aged, sick or infirm, whose fate is sad for that individual but leaves more grazing for the healthy members of the herd. (The First Nations saying about the subject is that "Wolves make the caribou strong," rather than the reverse.) The animal that furnishes the staple bulk of their diet is actually the field mouse, so they're rather helpful to humans in terms of vermin control. (Mowat field tested that diet on himself, to prove that it could sustain a large mammal in good condition, and developed several recipes in that successful experiment; he shares the one for souris a la creme --creamed mice-- here, but Barb and I didn't try it. :-) ) It also turns out that the decline in the caribou population was mainly driven by illegal hunting at the hands of humans.

One of the most intriguing discoveries Mowat details here grew out of his interactions with the local Inuit people, especially Ootek, who became a friend. Ootek was the son of a shaman and a minor shaman himself, and something of an expert on wolves --as a five-year-old child, he'd been deliberately left for 24 hours with a pack of wolves; the pups had played with him and the adults sniffed him but didn't harm him--and the author eventually discovered that his friend believed the wolves could verbally communicate factual information to each other by their howls, barks, etc. Not only that, but Ootek could actually understand a good deal of this language himself. (This belief was also not unique to Ootek; it was quite common among the area's natives.) Mowat's reaction to this was as skeptical as yours probably is, and as mine was --until there were incidents, recorded in the book, that convinced both the author and I that what Ootek claimed is the sober truth. To my knowledge, this discovery has never been seriously followed up by other researchers, and I absolutely think it should be; it's the kind of thing that cries out for more to be known!

Mowat writes with a wonderfully snarky sense of humor in many places which make the book a delight to read, and never boring; but he's also clearly very serious about his love for nature and the professionalism and scientific acumen with which he approached the study of wildlife, and these wolves in particular. And his tone can change in places to deadly earnest, and wrenchingly moving. As demagogic politicians and prejudiced constituencies today continue their cries to press the War on Wolves to the point of extinction, this book is if anything more timely and relevant than it was when it was first published. It opened my eyes, and I hope it will open the eyes of many more readers.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,731 followers
June 10, 2016
“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer – which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.”
― Farley Mowat, Never Cry Wolf


One of those books that if fun to review because my feelings about it change depending on how I look at it. As a pure book of science reporting/writing, it is probably a noble failure. As a influential environmental book, it is probably a wild success.

It is controversial (STILL) and entertaining (STILL) and a piece of shit/scat and a piece of art. My kids loved it for all the wrong reasons and I probably hate parts of it for all the wrong reasons. So, yes, I'm glad I read it, but I also recognize that it wasn't perfect (sorry, not many Darwins out there).
Profile Image for Greer.
44 reviews7 followers
July 5, 2011
I picked this up due to fond memories of viewing the 1983 movie in biology class. In this 1963 book, naturalist Farley Mowat chronicles his experiences observing wolves in the Canadian barrenlands 1948-49. I have mixed feelings about the book. On the plus side: it presented a positive image of wolves and stirred interest in their preservation. However, as a scientist I'm put off by the embellishments Mowat throws in both to make the story more entertaining and to sway the reader toward his point of view (even though I hold similar beliefs).

There are some non-fiction books where stretching the truth doesn't bother me. An example of this is Bill Bryson's travel writing. Bryson will embellish in order to capture the essence of a person or place, or to add humor. But I'm not expecting a historical account of what happened on his trip -- one of the reasons I read Bryson is to get his impressions, rather than an absolutely factual account.

With wildlife observation, on the other hand, I'd like an author to exercise some scientific rigor. Mowart has defended his approach by positing that we should never let facts interfere with the truth. I'd counter this with a quote from another biologist (Thomas Henry Huxley): "The great tragedy of Science: the slaying of a beatiful hypothesis by an ugly fact." In other words, don't get so attached to your theories you ignore the facts....

In the end this book made me want to read a more accurate book about wolves...
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,802 reviews1,235 followers
February 7, 2019
A friend who’d read this, gave me a copy to read in the summer of 1976 and I was riveted. I love the true story of a man who goes to study wolf behavior for the Canadian government and finds the unexpected. I got very attached to those wolves, and learned a great deal about wolf behavior. I don’t want to give away what happens, but want to say that although most of the story is very entertaining, told with great wit, and has many very humorous parts, I did cry also. I’ve reread this book several times and never cease to enjoy it. Readers 11 & up can enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,780 reviews1,458 followers
February 23, 2023
ETA: Why did they choose such an inappropriate cover for this book?! That's got to be a fluffy, white Samoyed dog staring at us!


This book came out in 1963. Then it was important. It challenged the prevalent view that wolves were vicious killers. We know better today. What is stated here has become common knowledge.

In this book, Farley Mowat, a Canadian author, biologist and naturalist, writes of his 1946 solo mission to study Arctic wolves of the Keewatin Barren Lands in Manitoba, Canada. It was believed that the wolves were the caribou’s primary predators. They were blamed for the caribou’s rapidly decreasing numbers. The study was to find out if this was true or not.

Mowat uses sarcastic humor in his presentation of facts. The humor doesn’t fit the telling of a scientific assignment. The humor has one questioning all that is said. It is inappropriate. Of course, I am simply voicing my point of view!

I’ve read a lot about wolves. There was nothing new here for me.

When the book first came out it was classified as nonfiction. It has been shown that some of Mowat's experiences should be taken with a pinch of salt.

I listened to this translated into Swedish. The translation is done by Birger Hultsrand. The audio version is read by Maud Backeus. Her voice is thin. It is too weak, particularly since a man is telling us of his summer spent studying the wolves. Two stars for the audiobook narration is as high as I can go. I could hear the words, so it’s OK!

I agree with what the book is saying and the description of nature is good. The antics of the wolves when they are playing made me smile. These are the reasons why I have given the book three stars, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who already knows about wolves.


*Never Cry Wolf 3 stars
*People of the Deer TBR
*And No Birds Sang TBR
Profile Image for Irena Pasvinter.
299 reviews59 followers
February 5, 2023
A short book, never boring and unexpectedly full of humor. A must read for everybody who is interested in nature in general and in wolves in particular.

*Well, it appears the book, although presented as a memoir, is more fiction than fact. I am torn now. I suppose the facts about the wolves are true enough but now I must read something else to be sure. I'm changing the rating from 5 stars to 3.
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,682 reviews345 followers
June 27, 2021
Around 1948, Farley Mowat was hired by the Canadian Wildlife Service as a field assistant to American biologist Francis Harper for a major study of the caribou near Nueltin Lake https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nueltin... , west of Hudson’s Bay in Arctic Canada. Little of this context was given by Mowat in his "Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves" — which is nonetheless an acknowledged classic, and a very entertaining book to read. I really enjoyed rereading it. But I was taken aback at the author acknowledging that “I never let facts get in the way of a good story. I was writing subjective non-fiction all along" (2012). And there are tells along the way: an apex predator subsisting largely on field mice? C’mon. The Inuit saying that Mowat quotes, “the caribou feeds the wolf, but it is the wolf who keeps the caribou strong” is accurate, I think, and a lot more sensible.

That’s the problem with "nonfiction" polemics — once the first falsehood is uncovered, it’s hard to know what to believe. So I think it’s best to treat “Never Cry Wolf” as science fiction, "based on a true story." On that account it’s a great success, and I recommend it. Absorbing reading, poignant — and very funny. One of his best books, I think.

As a polemic, it was also a success, helping to change the public view of wolves to a more positive one, and aiding in wolf-conservation efforts. And it’s not as if Mowat ever concealed his views — which I largely agree with. The Wikipedia article is pretty good & has the details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Never_C... (no real spoilers).

I would have preferred if Mowat had acknowledged this stuff up front. But it is what it is: a book and writer of its time, and it did help The Cause. And it’s a wonderful story! 5 stars for the story, 2 stars for the “Amazing True Story" BS.
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,851 reviews147 followers
October 5, 2020
A true adventure book. Farley Mowat’s book focuses on his heroic adventures while living among wolves in the wild.

He is very sensitive to the environment in the 1960’s (the original publication date) before environmental activism was popularized.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,042 followers
March 13, 2009
Crazy, but absolutely amazing. Mowat moves in next to a pack of wolves & observes them. His description of 'marking' his territory (with the help of several pots of tea) & how the alpha male managed the same feat with a single pass, showing far better control, is both funny & exhilarating. He's cut off a part of their path as his territory, sits there weaponless & participates with them at their level. That pretty much describes the book. It's fascinating.
Profile Image for Lea.
891 reviews192 followers
June 28, 2021
The international wolf center says: "When Farley Mowat published his 1963 book, Never Cry Wolf, it was heralded by environmentalists from his native Canada all the way to the Soviet Union. His real-life account of wolf behavior in Canada seemed to shed new light on their prey, their behavior and their role in an ecosystem. But was it actually a true story as he proclaimed? The answer is no."

I started this book with the knowledge that it was an important book that helped to change the perception of wolves and that I shouldn't believe every word Mowat writes. But I was not expecting this to read like I imagine Gilderoy Lockhart's made-up adventure stories sound. So pompeous! And the description of the wolves was so anthropomorphized; he kept writing about a wolf and his 'wife' and suscriping human gendered behavior depending on the animal's sex.

I considered giving this two points for its impact, but as far as reading enjoyment goes, there was none.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,042 followers
November 11, 2018
I'd forgotten how good this book was. It's funny, educational, & heartbreaking. It's a must-read for anyone who likes the environment, north woods, wolves, &/or science as Mowat finds out that everything he'd been taught was wrong.

In the 1950s, Mowat finds himself tasked to learn about the wolves of the north woods which are supposedly wiping out the caribou population. The wolves are ferocious & are killing wantonly - everyone says so. In a series of hilarious events, he finds himself alone in the wilderness & takes up wolf watching. What he finds is fantastic & completely at odds with common lore. While he anthropomorphizes the wolves a little too much, he certainly does them justice & shows the real culprits.

This was very well narrated & just a fantastic read in this format. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Profile Image for Amanda Hupe.
953 reviews58 followers
September 17, 2021
“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer – which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.”

Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat is a mixture of many different genres. It is one part memoir, one part adventure, one part scientific journalism, and another part nature nonfiction. Can I add humor to this? You know what, I am adding it. There were a few lines that made me laugh. Farley Mowat is an environmentalist that was sent to study the wolves that were viciously attacking large herds of caribou. What he discovers is quite the opposite. He is surprised to discover that it isn’t the wolves that are attacking the caribou and details the family unit of a pack of wolves. While some of the details of this book have been criticized, it still makes a point. We have often portrayed wolves as ruthless killers. How many movies, books, and folklore tales have wolves as the villain? So many. This book is meant to give credit where credit is due. We now have evidence that we actually need wolves to maintain ecosystems.

“The wolf never kills for fun, which is probably one of the main differences distinguishing him from man.

One of the things that I loved most about this book, is the author’s reliance on local indigenous peoples, particularly the Inuit. They helped him learn how to live in the harsh environment and the wisdom they have of the area including information about the animals and nature. I love how he respected and wanted to learn from them.

I also loved how he viewed the wolves. He meticulously studied the family unit which was led by George. (Mowat named him George to make reading the novel a little easier.) He had a mate. Wolves will actually mate for life. If a mate dies, they have been known to take a new mate. But they normally partner for life. This partnership had a few pups in tow. He watched as the parents taught them how to hunt. He also watched them play together as a family. But who could forget about Uncle Albert, another male in the family unit?! He often helped care for the pups. His love story with a husky is detailed as well.

While I see why many people criticized this book, I still absolutely loved it. It helps shine a light on the family-oriented wolves and tries to steer people away from the villainous portrayals. And it made me happy that wolves are one of my favorite animals. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Evan.
1,071 reviews753 followers
June 23, 2016
Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf is a classic of environmental, wildlife and adventure literature -- beautifully written, funny and moving all the way to its gorgeous final pages, which, I admit, made me cry.

A marvelous film of the same title was made from this book in 1983, which I would also highly recommend, if you've never seen it. Of course, it's no substitute for this book, but is excellent in its own right.

The book starts out as a sort of MASH-like satire on the nonsensical bureaucracies of the Canadian government, as field scientist Mowat finds himself on the floor of the desolate frozen tundra after a harrowing ride in a spit-and-gum plane helmed by an eccentric pilot. Set down there with an impossibly massive bulk of expensive government scientific and survival gear and some foul clandestine hooch, Mowat's mission is one that is decidedly anti-wolf. In the course of gathering data about wolf behavior that is ostensibly designed to prove them to be senseless, bloodthirsty, excessively destructive killing machines -- and thus justifiable fodder for destruction themselves -- Mowat instead finds them to be social, highly evolved beings whose imprint on the environment is light and beneficial.

Debate over the authenticity of this book has raged for decades, and it's hard to know how much of it is true or made up out of whole-cloth. But Mowat did something that needed doing, and that's to bring the debate on wolves closer to a sane center instead of the histrionic mythological extreme that has consigned wolves and other animals to the reckless bent of murderous humans for so long.

Mowat's voice is a bemused one, a tad smug perhaps. He is the arrogant, snarky know-it-all guy who is so funny and erudite that you can forgive his arrogant, snarky know-it-allness. You gotta love it when someone refers to his own farting as "my demon drummer of the nether depths."

The book is a gem, awe-inspiring and evocative, and a thoroughly delightful read.

(Kr@Ky, with slight changes in 2016)
Profile Image for Debbie Zapata.
1,832 reviews44 followers
December 12, 2018
This book was originally written in 1963 and my 30th anniversary edition had a new preface by the author in which he said his practice was "...never to allow facts to interfere with the truth...humor has a vital place in helping us understand our lives."

So do we allow this statement to color our judgment of this book? Is it a true story or an embellished one or a totally made up one? Did Mowat really go into the wild and live with wolves the way he said he did? Did he see the behaviors he described or did he imagine them from the warmth of a paneled office somewhere?

Does it really matter? Some people will say yes, others will say no. I am somewhere in the middle. When I first read that preface I wondered...could I believe this man? But I have read and thoroughly enjoyed so many other titles by this author that it doesn't matter. I loved the story of his time observing wolves in the wild. Mowat made me laugh (mostly at his own foolishness); he made me wish I could see wolves in person myself; he made me dream a bit. And that was exactly what I had hoped for when i began the book.

Profile Image for Esther.
291 reviews16 followers
May 8, 2021
Absolutely loved this! Farley mowat is so clever I truly laughed out LOUD all throughout reading this. Manages to be such a delightful blend of humor and terrific nature writing, even though I was not a wolf girl in elementary school the subject was just lovely to learn learn about. Tbh I am pissed that my Canadian dad read this Canadian book and other Farley mowats only to my brother and not me during childhood! This was one of their special father son bonding things and now I’m like but this was so good where was I?? I simply cannot wait to read more, especially the boat that wouldn’t float which is set in Newfoundland, one of the most beautiful parts of Canada that I have never been to but was supposed to go hiking with my family in summer 2020 rip. Anyhoo truly a staple of Canadian literature, and following the Canadian naturalism theme, a hilarious, not sexy follow up to bear. Cannot recommend more!!
Profile Image for JohnnyBear.
172 reviews12 followers
January 14, 2022
8 out of 10

Never Cry Wolf is a book by Farley Mowat. This book is about his expedition to the arctic and his studying of the wolves that live there. The reason he got to go there is that people believed that wolves were hunting all the caribou, and they wanted someone to watch the wolves to prove their theory. Farley got to go out there and study their behavior.

Never Cry Wolf Book Cover

Farley eventually found a cabin that was owned by a guy named Mike. Mike allowed Farley to stay on his property, and thus he then began his research. He eventually found a wolf den and began observing them. Farley then spent the rest of the year observing them and documenting their behavior.

I really enjoyed this book. I liked learning about the arctic wolves, and I liked a lot of the scientific elements that this book presented. It was very entertaining, and Farley provided a lot of story elements to grab onto, and not just a bunch of facts.

There is a lot of contradicting information out there saying whether this book was fiction or not, but I like to believe that this was a real event. Farley is a great storyteller, and he is great at describing scenery. Really enjoyable read, although I did a little confused by some of the more prose-y descriptions.
Profile Image for Zuzulivres.
339 reviews98 followers
April 5, 2020
Nikdy by som si nemyslela, že sa mi niekedy bude tak veľmi páčiť kniha o vlkoch. Vyšla v roku 1963, no považujem ju za nadčasovú a pútavú aj pre dnešného čitateľa. Autentická výpoveď svedka pozorovania života vlkov, plná zaujímavých a zábavných momentov. Nastavuje ľudstvu nemilosrdné zrkadlo, v ktorom sa zračí pravda pravdúca, že skutočným zverom, ktorého sa treba obávať nie je vlk, ale sám človek.
Profile Image for Jillyn.
732 reviews
October 26, 2012
Written in the sixties, this book follows the year that naturalist Farley Mowat lived among the wolves. Hired to observe these wolves up in Canada to see why they were killing caribou, Mowat uses humor, observation, and a bit of personification to narrate his observations of wolf behavior and what he learned from his time living in the wild.


I had to read this for my English class this semester. It followed about four other books on natural systems that I did not care for at all, and I'm happy to say I actually really enjoyed this. It's approachable, hilarious, and easy to read. Mowat seems like the kind of guy that'd be fun to go drinking or camping with (though, if that's a good thing in a scientist is probably debatable). Instead of mindlessly journaling boring observations, he helps the reader feel a bond with "Wolf A" and "Wolf B" by giving them human names, and little stories. I genuinely cared about these wolves that lived over half a century ago.

I recommend it for any wolf lover, nature lover, or naturalist.
Profile Image for Allison.
271 reviews42 followers
August 12, 2016
Oh, thank God it's over.

I knew this book would be pro-wolves. I'd read that this was fiction mixed with experience. I knew a lot of the anthropomorphism was deeply ingrained in the story, and I was okay with that, pleased to go in with a grain of salt firmly in hand.

What I didn't know is that Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf would be so pro-Farley-Mowat.

I wasn't prepared for the ego, for the use of the vehicle of literature (and wolves) to so firmly slap its author on the back, over and over and over and over and over...

I'd had enough by about one-third through. But as it's Classic CanLit, I decided I'd better keep going.

But honestly, it's this kind of rubbish that puts high school students off of CanLit, and for that I am deeply disturbed. I hope no teacher ever again requires her/his student to wade through this when there are so many great Canadian authors and novels! I hope this one gets buried for good.
Profile Image for Ian.
408 reviews81 followers
January 5, 2022
3.5 ⭐

I know this book doesn't represent the literal truth, but in some important ways that doesn't matter so much.
Back when I first read this, the myth of vicious killer wolves was still very much part of conventional wisdom. Mowat's book started to change that. Although he was labeled 'Hardly Knowit' by professional scientists, no one could say he couldn't write passionately about the natural world. And if a lot of what he wrote was just a story, it was still a pretty good story.
Profile Image for George K..
2,433 reviews318 followers
January 10, 2017
Να και το πρώτο πεντάστερο βιβλίο για φέτος. Πρόκειται για ένα καταπληκτικό μικρό βιβλίο, που από την μια σε ταξιδεύει, σε κάνει να νιώθεις όμορφα με τις περιπέτειες του συγγραφέα στην Αρκτική για την παρακολούθηση των λύκων και σου φτιάχνει το κέφι με το πολύ ωραίο και ευχάριστο χιούμορ του, από την άλλη όμως σε βάζει να σκέφτεσαι κάποια πράγματα για την καθημερινότητά και τον κόσμο γύρω σου, καθώς και για την αντιμετώπιση των ανθρώπων απέναντι στους λύκους και κατ'επέκταση απέναντι σε όλα τα ζώα και ολόκληρη την φύση.

Ο Φάρλεϊ Μόατ, που την έζησε την ζωή του (1921-2014), ήταν ένας πασίγνωστος φυσιοδίφης, ένθερμος υποστηρικτής της προστασίας του περιβάλλοντος, περιπετειώδης χαρακτήρας και τολμηρός εξερευνητής. Στο βιβλίο αυτό παρακολουθούμε τους μήνες που έζησε στ��ν Αρκτική, είτε μόνος του είτε παρέα με κάποιους απομονωμένους μα φιλικούς Εσκιμώους, με σκοπό την παρακολούθηση των συνηθειών των λύκων της περιοχής. Ο Μόατ έγινε ένα με τους λύκους και κατάλαβε ότι πολλά πράγματα που υποτίθεται ότι γνωρίζαμε ή πιστεύαμε γι'αυτούς, ήταν πολύ μακριά από την πραγματικότητα. Το θέμα είναι ότι εκείνα τα χρόνια (το βιβλίο εκδόθηκε το 1963 αλλά αυτά που περιγράφει ο συγγραφέας πρέπει να διαδραματίστηκαν μέσα στην δεκαετία του '50), οι διάφορες κρατικές και τοπικές υπηρεσίες, είχαν μια ιδιαίτερα επιθετική πολιτική απέναντι στους λύκους. Χώρια τους γουναράδες και τους κυνηγούς... Όσον αφορά την γραφή, είναι τρομερά ευκολοδιάβαστη και ιδιαίτερα ευχάριστη, με πολύ ωραίες περιγραφές των τοπίων, των διαφόρων δραστηριοτήτων του συγγραφέα και αρκετών αξιομνημόνευτων περιστατικών. Το χιούμορ, όπως είπα στην αρχή, είναι μπόλικο και σίγουρα ευπρόσδεκτο. Ο Μόατ δεν ντρέπεται να αναφέρει περιστατικά τα οποία και μόνο στην σκέψη θα τον έκαναν να κοκκινίσει από ντροπή (γέλασα πολύ σε αρκετές περιπτώσεις).

Τέλος πάντων, είναι ένα εξαιρετικό βιβλίο, από την πρώτη μέχρι και την τελευταία σελίδα. Διαβάζοντας αυτό το βιβλίο θα μάθετε αρκετά πράγματα για τους λύκους αλλά και γενικά για την φύση, χωρίς όμως να σας κουράσει με επιστημονικούρες και ατελείωτα κατεβατά γεμάτα ορολογίες (πολύ απλά, δεν υπάρχουν!). Επίσης είναι ένα βιβλίο που θα σας ταξιδέψει, θα σας κάνει να χαλαρώσετε χάρη στο χιούμορ και τις "περιπέτειες" του συγγραφέα του, ενώ θα σας κάνει να σκεφτείτε και κάποια πράγματα για την φύση και τον κόσμο γύρω σας. Το μόνο σίγουρο είναι ότι θα το ξαναδιαβάσω αρκετές φορές στο μέλλον. Προς το παρόν, όμως, θα μου λείψει.

Υ.Γ. Μην το ξεχάσω: Οπωσδήποτε θα δω και την ομότιτλη ταινία που βασίζεται στο βιβλίο αυτό. Πρέπει να είναι και αυτή πολύ καλή!
Profile Image for Martha☀.
706 reviews36 followers
November 11, 2013
In this fictionalized account of Farley Mowat's summer time sojourn to the Arctic in the late 1940s, the harmful myths about wolves are broken and light is shed on their playful, family-oriented nature. At that time, the wolf reputation as an insatiable killer was maintained by trappers who collected a bounty for every wolf hide they produced. There was no scientific research on wolves until Mowat set out specifically to study them.
His accounts of the Wolf House Bay pack are eye-opening to him, as he expected to be killed as soon as he was dropped off in the Barrens, and there is good information about wolf cub-rearing, inter- and intra-pack communication and nightly hunting routines.

But the manner in which Mowat tells his stories is over-embellished to the point of unbelievable and silly, rather than informative (and fiction rather than non-fiction). For example, on the night in spring when the ice began to run the river, causing it to over-flow its banks, Mowat supposedly got in his canoe in the middle of the night to pursue a supposedly stranded Husky pup. Really? I am supposed to believe this? Has he ever seen what a river is like under ice breakup? Bwah. I also found that his interactions with the Inuit people were disrespectful and condescending, despite the graciousness of their hospitality and generosity towards him.

The front flap of my hardcover book claims, "Thousands upon thousands of readers believe it to be one of the funniest and most delightful books ever written about anything." Perhaps it was comments like this that got my hopes up too high. Sadly, I am not one of the many thousands.

That said, I should probably rate this book higher because it documents a time when little was known about wolves, aboriginal peoples and life in the high Arctic. Mowat's account of the sport of killing caribou from an aircraft and the 'wolf control' policy of the Canadian Wildlife service in 1959 are chilling facts. Despite our currently-available information about wolves, their lives and livelihood are still at risk and they need protection more than ever.
Profile Image for Rachel Bea.
358 reviews115 followers
August 10, 2018
I don't care if there is controversy around this book having some, or a lot, of fabrication to it. The message is clear: It's not wolves who are the problem, it's humans.

I enjoyed the writing style - at times it was quite funny, other times what he described was gut-wrenching. I felt as if I was there with him in the Arctic, getting to know the wolves and the indigenous people who lived there.

I recently visited a wolf sanctuary in New York for my birthday. It was an amazing experience; they have four ambassador wolves that visitors are allowed to "meet" (you can't get close). I learned a lot about wolves, their behavior, and sadly, how humans destroyed wolf populations. This book echoed a bit of what I learned at the sanctuary, and not going to lie, it depresses me.

Would recommend this text to anyone who respects wildlife, particularly wolves.

Note: Throughout the text, the word "Eskimo" is used. We know now (well, people SHOULD know...) to not use that term as it is considered offensive, but just wanted to give a heads up that it is used.
Profile Image for Ryan.
311 reviews39 followers
February 12, 2022
This is a first person narrative of Farley Mowat's alleged time in the barrens of Canada studying wolves. I say "alleged" because Mowat's "true story" has since been proven to be largely fictional.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. It was entertaining with a number of humerous moments. Two moments in particular made me laugh out loud.

Although I’m not sure how I feel knowing that the story is a fictional work represented as a true story. Does that make me like it less? Should it? I don’t know…

After it became widely known that Mowat had fabricated the story, he defended himself, saying, “I took some pride in having it known that I never let facts get in the way of a good story. I was writing subjective non-fiction all along.”

It is true that his book is a good story. And he did some good by showing man was responsible for the depletion of caribou, not wolves. But it's also true that he propagated some misinformation about the habits of wolves. For example, wolves do not subsist on mice.

A couple of quotes I liked…

“…for if I had learned anything during my years at the university it was that the scientific hierarchy requires a high standard of obedience, if not subservience, from its acolytes.” p. 10

“There is nothing like the whip of fear to lash men into a fury of destruction.” p. 232
Profile Image for J.S. Burke.
Author 6 books461 followers
March 13, 2023
"Never Cry Wolf" is one of my favorite books ever. It's well written, educational, compelling, and entertaining, with a deep message. Farley Mowat is a brilliant writer with laugh-out-loud descriptions of his unusual experiences. As summer arrives, he notes that “the most bloodthirsty beasts in the Arctic are not wolves, but the insatiable mosquitos.” This is the true story of a family of wolves, and it helped start an important environmental protection movement.

Mowat was hired to connect wolves to the killing of massive numbers of caribou. But, he discovers that caribou are beyond the wolves’ territory for months on end. The wolves’ diet is far different than was imagined, and nearly all of the caribou were killed by humans.

The continuing push to destroy wolves is rooted in ignorance, fear, and greed. “Whenever and wherever men have engaged in the mindless slaughter of animals (including other men), they have often attempted to justify their acts by attributing the most vicious or revolting qualities to those they would destroy; and the less reason there is for the slaughter, the greater the campaign of vilification.”
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