From “What is a wolf?” to “who’s afraid of the big bad wolf,” from creation myths and Aesop’s many fables centered on wolves to crying wolf and “Little Red Riding Hood,” from colonial efforts to eradicate both wolves and indigenous people to debates about repopulating wolves, Berry’s prodigious study follows every cultural and historical avenue to understanding the roles we’ve given wolves throughout the ages. At the same time, she offers an eye-opening natural history; grounded in the life and death of OR-7, one of the first wolves to re-enter Oregon, this investigation uses science to expose the myth of “the lone wolf” and to show the unwarranted criminalization—even demonization—of an animal that rarely attacks humans and one that, in fact, early humans learned much from. Still, “wolf-ish” suggests something that can’t quite be pinned down, and that elusiveness is the heart of what is also a probing meditation on fear. Using her own and others’ experiences with stalkers, creeps, and worse, Berry raises important issues of predators and prey, of who has power, who has lessons to learn, and whose stories get to be believed.
Wolfish, by Erica Berry