I starting reading the book just as there were news stories that Wisconsin is considering allowing wolf hunting again. This was in startling contrast to information in the book that there were no more wolves in Wisconsin and most of the US. This highlighted for me the 2 things I was to gain from the book. First, I learned about wolves. Secondly, I learned about Barry Lopez as a persuasive writer.
Most people’s best learning comes when they can connect the new information with what they already hold in their mind. The connections to me are of ethos or credibility. I remember being stunned while reading, that Lopez details the limits of his own knowledge about wolves and also does a good job of describing the various points of view available. In the introduction he told of dog-killing incidents in Goldstream Valley, Alaska. He describes strong emotions elicited by wolves. He describes reactions of biologists, Eskimos, dog owners, and all of us.
This is classic stuff that makes up persuasive people. It is also the basis for his book. Persuaders can tell you their own limits and they can accurately describe the positions of those that disagree with the thesis presented. To me, this is some of the roots of his power to create long-lasting change. Ethos sets the stage. Being trustworthy makes other people move to more flexible positions and better ability to consider what they haven’t been able to see. The shift over 35 years from no wolves to consideration of wolf hunting is proof of his impact.
I plan to keep the book and reread it. For me the latter chapters about fables, gods and literature got tedious, but they do prove the thoroughness of Lopez's research. Then wham, he comes in with the epilogue and his open experience raising 2 wolves. More ethos and a power closing.
Thanks for helping get me connected to this book and author.
Monday, May 14, 2012
"Of Wolves and Men" Book review by Ron Frye
Here is a book review of Of Wolves and Men by my soon to be Step Dad Ron Frye, a musician, and speech teacher at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, WI. Its funny because he did the same thing I did, when I read it, over 20 years ago, as a kid, read a chapter or two, get really excited about some cool facts or lines from the book and then excitedly share it with my Mother. Its a testament to Lopez' quality as a writer, I think.