Official website of author Bruce Hampton

The Great American Wolf: A Biography


During the four hundred years since Europeans first arrived in North America, the wolf was this continent’s most reviled animal, the object of a passionate, brutal hatred of the type humans usually reserve for members of their own kind.

Hundreds of thousands of wolves were trapped, poisoned, shot or dynamited in their dens. Many suffered deaths that carried the marks of revenge, such as being burned alive or scalped; others had their mouths wired shut or their eyes pierced with branding irons before being released to starve to death.

But before this time, Native Americans had a far different relationship with wolves, one often marked by respect and acceptance, even emulation for an animal they viewed to be not unlike themselves.

What I find most compelling about wolves is their long and close relationship with humans during the past ten thousand years. This book examines that bond, particularly during the last several hundred years in North America when the human perception of wolves traveled from acceptance and respect to near wholesale extirpation and back again.

Today, the symbolic power of the wolf remains while our perception of the animal, as well as ourselves, has vastly changed. If we can make room for the animal once cursed by Theodore Roosevelt as “the beast of waste and desolation,” there is hope for the preservation of other life.

What reviewers say:

“Thoroughly researched… well-considered study of the lupine legend.” – Publishers Weekly

“A book almost as compelling as the fiercely intelligent predator itself.” – High Country News

“A compelling history…told through a combination of scholarly research and ear for the telling detail. – Chicago Tribune

“An even-handed, judicious book with an engaging and clear style of writing.” – Los Angeles Times

* Hardcover: 308 pages
* Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (1997)
* ISBN: 0805037160