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on 6 January 2009
I put this book on my Christmas list having read a couple of extracts in newspaper supplements; I'm very glad that I did.

The strange thing is that, because it felt like I'd read so much of the book in the published extracts, I felt I knew exactly what I was getting: a moving account of a man's experience living with a wolf. I nearly typed "owning" but, if you read the book, you will appreciate how inappropriate that term would be.

However, I was a long way off the mark in my expectations. Yes, the moving and funny accounts of life with an essentially wild animal were still there, there's definitely a wolf, but there's also the philosopher.

The author turns his expert mind on the experience of sharing 11 years of his life with Brenin to a wonderfully though-provoking extent. I found myself wanting to read the book to experience the journey of life with the wolf, but also wanting to check my progress to contemplate the issues on life and people raised.

It turns out living with a wolf shines a significant light on how we are as people. That Rowland's ultimate analysis of homo sapiens is somewhat unflattering (that our intelligence is driven by our need to understand our peers so that we can deceive them more and use them for our own purposes) doesn't make it wrong.

The book is both enlightening and uplifting and I recommend it whole-heartedly.
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on 4 October 2009
I bought this book as a dog lover, being fascinated by the relationship between man and animals, and found this a truly delightful, inspiring, moving and most of all thoughtful read. I couldn't put this book down and suprisingly found it a more enjoyable read than most of the other, lighter, books I have bought this year. Buy it and prepare to reflect more deeply on the important questions in life, and what makes us who we are.
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on 15 August 2009
This is an IMPORTANT book. It is principally a philosophical work that breaks the mould of much of the trend of Western thought while addressing the historical reasonings that have brought us to our present beliefs. Like Peter Singer, the author is led to a clear defence of animal rights, but for a completely different reason. He presents a compelling case for a duty of consideration towards other sentient beings, explained in parallel to, and as a result of, his experience of living with a wolf. This is a moving, interesting and inspiring tale of friendship. Mark Rowlands, in his dealings with Brenin, the wolf in question - who is recognised by his "owner" as having a personality and rights -, does something so very many dog owners omit to do: he gives him company, instinctively understanding that the animal is not psychologically equipped for solitude. This in turn allows the author to get to know the wolf, understand him and grow to love him. This is ultimately a passionate love story and an attempt to explain what is important in life. A remarkable lesson from the philosopher and the wolf.
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on 29 January 2016
An interesting book to read and enjoyable.

Having lived more than a decade in Zimbabwe, England and France respectively I feel qualified to add that the ape mind is not the only one. Clearly anglo saxon (or northern?) - the mediterranean (or southern?) modification might be something for nothing rather than all you can get; and the African mind is altogether more generous. Much of my life has been a long hard fight on all fronts and I realise my thinking reflects that in a tendency to cover all options asap and give no quarter: particularly in comparison with friends whose thinking is very graceful and supple and or peacable: there are apparently various 'minds' and 'brains' and ways of developing a considered/cultured/open/lucid/kind mind?

(This is a lovely quote - about David Bowie - something to aim towards?
In a statement released last week, Mr Renck said: 'One could only dream about collaborating with a mind like that; let alone twice. Intuitive, playful, mysterious and profound.
'I have no desire to do any more videos knowing the process never ever gets as formidable and fulfilling as this was. I've basically touched the sun.'
Or he could bring this experience to everything he does?)

Add in Jung and integration and you aren't stuck with what you have got and have an anima animus for extra info and leverage. Ages since I read Camus but I remember he ended feeling that wemust imagine that Sisyphus is happy?, and feel sure that with a child in the house, this kind of intrinsic value to day to day life and its vicissitudes is evident.

Several of MR's arguments were interesting - 'though for me the respect of property is not a premise for further inequality but an equality of itself: I feel able to say to anyone that I ask them to respect my few belongings as I respect their (sometimes) many, and his description of extreme philia was a mirror image of the crucifixion (and resurrection?): which I understand as agape. Looking at the starry sky seems more a swept away by beauty than a rational experience, and the cairn of Brenin a gift just to be (joyously) accepted. A manifestation of love.

But I enjoyed reading it, it read well outloud too.

I grew up with cats and that more 'lucid' and less 'dominant' culture than that of dogs/wolves.

When I read The Myth of Sisyphus the phrase that has followed me ever since is (the mood of Return to Tipasa and from it) 'Love is not justice but justice is not enough'. And from the Q&A session from his Nobel Prize speech which is published in some versions: take the bitterness without becoming bitter and retrun to the world having won that light. (Camus was existentialist but not nihilist).

Don't we learn grammar to speak (communicate precise meaning) and similarly with philosophy/religion/ethics/theology/all art to live 'live' - Mr God this is Anna by Fynn and Dibs in Search of Self by Virginia Axline and the Almond Bough in Twice Seven Tales by Barbara Picard, and My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara (and others) set me on my way as a child and found their adult equivalents and opened other vistas.

Story is so informative.

I also liked these ideas ( ie any discipline alone is not enough?):
As an astrologer, let me be the first to admit that the Cosmic Science alone is not enough; it is not a strong enough foundation of wisdom upon which to build the house of consciousness in the current world. Astrology -- practiced as a discipline -- is a great teacher, and a magnificent mirror within which to view our progress through the cosmos. But as you grow and learn, I recommend you work at all times with three major taps into the sea of wisdom: one that is very old, one that is very new, and one that you just really like. The lyrics of your favorite band, the words of your favorite poet (get one of those), the visual comments of your favorite artist (get one of those too), a friend over 50, a friend under 20, the Tao Te Ching, the Tarot, the pattern of the rocks in the driveway -- they all count as distinct possibilities. The field of new awareness is wide open to you now, and just in time -- your old ideas have never disintegrated faster.
(Mar 1999)
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on 19 August 2009
This is an incredible book, extremely moving, contains a lot of philosophying but is never boring. The author cleverly mixes philosophy with narrative creating a remarkable book. I imagine animal lovers will get the most out of this book but I urge everyone to read it.
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on 14 August 2016
Fascinating. I have read this book 5 times now, because the ideas developed are sometimes very deep. To those who care understanding them, that is. Marc Rowlands has given words to thoughts that I have had throughout my life. I have felt myself "tuning out of human kind" because I value more the silent loyalty of the pack than the "incessant chattering and scheming of the ape". I completely agree with Marc that "a dog is your friend; a human can only really be you ally". I agree that humans tell a lot of stories (bulls***) to themselves to justify their sometimes ominous actions and the root of those stories is to be found in the need to give a moral base to those actions. Never mind the superficial and dishonest criticisms I have read about this book: read it. Several times, as some concepts are not trivial (especially the philosophical ones). True, this is not a training guide for those who want a wolf. But then the title gave that away. It is obvious that the critics of the book in these reviews have not read it as they fall in the same type of philosophical fallacies that are denounced by Marc. It does not really matter though. Those who want to understand the basis of the special relation between wolves (and dogs) and humans should read this book, as I think it explains those reasons very well. The others, well, they are free not to read it.
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on 10 June 2009
This is an outstanding piece of work, a touching story woven into the fabric of some challenging philosophical thinking. Hard to put down and extremely well-written - very satisfying.
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on 11 February 2009
The author steers just the right side of sentimentality with the story of his pet wolf. Everyone who has some dumb animal as his best buddy will empathise. The background story of growing up from being a beer swilling rugby playing, party animal to full on mid life existential crisis monger is told simply and apparently honestly.

I loved it
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on 8 March 2012
I have given the product two stars mostly because most amazon 1 star reviews come across as bitter or totally inappropriate "arrived late" etc. Two out of ten would ,perhaps, be more accurate.
I see that those who have given this book less than stellar reviews have had lots of "unhelpful" clicks and some follow up in the comments. This review is for people thinking of buying the book not for those who have read it. I am also going to offer some recommendations for other books.I no longer own this book.

I have had a lifelong interest in the natural world and northern predators in particular. I am especially keen on wolves. The book was bought for me as it seemed to be a neat blending of my two loves of phiolosophy and nature.
I didn't finsh the book I think I got half way through. I put it down at the point where he decided to go vegetarian for moral reasons which is fair enough, I remember that he wrote about the animals having no choice in their role. He then elected (obviously unilaterally) to feed his wolf a vegetarian diet. The book went down at that point.
The author clearly harbours a deep dislike for humans his self hatred is as profound as his ignorance of ecology and zoology. The book comes across as a series of increasingly thin rationalisations for the choices he has made for himself and his pet. I believe it is illegal to own a wolf except under very special circumstances, this has been addressed in other reviews but the author makes it clear that he owned a 100% wolf at the beginning of the book. That he then makes endless moralistic arguments highlights his amazing inconsistency and the hypocrisy of his arguments. His rugby and beer machismo is also deeply unattractive.
I did think at points that I was looking into the mind of one of those people who tells you their dog is fine while is growls and snaps at your wife and kids. His thinking is much in line with the poor chap in Werner Hertzog's "Grizzly Man".
You won't learn much about philosophy and you certainly won't learn much about wolves.
Anyhow Barry Lopez's fine work "of wolves and Men" is a far more satisfy and frankly less emotional work which actually deals with western man's paradoxical,uncomfortable relationship with wolves and wildness. You could also go with Rolf Petersen's "Wolves of Isle Royale" as a look at wild wolf populations.
However the book I would most strongly recommend is "the Wolf" by David Mech almost certainly the world's foremost expert on the wolf. David Mech had a pet wolf "lightning" for many years he however highlights that the animal was unhappy and unfulfilled with the life he could offer it (in sharp contrast to Rowlands) and said "it is very,very wrong to keep a wolf as a pet". I will leave with a quote from the work. "and lastly to lightning-if it is permissable to address a wolf in print- the only thing I can say is, "I'm sorry"."
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on 21 January 2009
In this book Mark Rowlands describes and relives his life experience with his companion wolf. Yes, not a pet but a companion. As explained by Konrad Lorenz, wolves are not like dogs, they are independent, mature animals in their own right and do not have the immature tendencies common to dogs. Dogs were bred for this tendency which is why the difference exists.

Rowlands is a philosopher but he is also very human and does not suffer from any kind of attempt to impose a philosophy on anyone. He simply lives his life and one of these experiences was with his wolf companion. This makes this book unique and worthwhile. The book is really a way of describing how it is possible to be a philosopher and a human being at the same time. So it is both full of his life as a philosopher and as the emotionally connected companion of a wolf. There are plenty of stories relating his experiences such as when Rowlands attempted to throw a stick to see if his wolf would fetch it, as he might have expected if he had a dog. Instead the the wolf just looked at him as if to say: "What, you want me to get that? Are you crazy ?"

The book is also filled with Rowlands life as a person with all his weaknesses and strengths exposed. His tendency to drink too much, his nomadic life and inability to connect to his frequent girlfriends. Throughout, this is interspersed with his learning experiences as the companion of his wolf. Simply a wonderful read.
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