The best books that paint a multi-dimensional portrait of the wolf

Who are we?

We were fascinated with animals and the natural world from an early age. As documentary filmmakers, our intent was to capture the social lives of wolves on film. We hoped to dispel long-perpetuated myths by showing a side of these animals that was too often overlooked. What began as a two-year film project turned into six years of close observation and interaction with a pack of wolves. The things we learned and experienced exceeded our wildest expectations and changed our lives forever. We were captivated by these incredible and inspiring animals and have continued to advocate for wolves for over 30 years.

We wrote...

The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack

By Jim Dutcher, Jamie Dutcher,

Book cover of The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack

What is our book about?

On the edge of the Idaho wilderness, we lived with a pack of gray wolves for six years in a tented camp. That setting granted us unparalleled access to the hidden social life of these family-oriented animals. In this book we have gathered favorite memories from our years with the Sawtooth Pack, stories of benevolent leaders, fierce mothers, nurturing fathers, hunters, adventurers, comedians, and caregivers. Our intention is not to imbue wolves with human morals; it is to celebrate their very wolflike qualities through the lens of our own humanity. As it happens, many of the qualities that make a wolf successful at being a wolf also represent the best in human nature.  

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The books we picked & why

Book cover of Of Wolves and Men

Jim and Jamie Dutcher Why did I love this book?

Anyone familiar with the work of Barry Lopez would likely agree his elegant and insightful prose is reason enough to warrant a recommendation. But this book also takes the reader on a journey of unexpected breadth and depth through the world of wolves and their relationship with humanity. He illuminates the wolf from scientific, indigenous, historical, and modern-day perspectives. Don’t miss the brief and touching dedication that offers a glimpse into Barry’s love and respect for animals.

By Barry Lopez,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Of Wolves and Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......

Book cover of Never Cry Wolf

Jim and Jamie Dutcher Why did I love this book?

Never Cry Wolf is a quick read, peppered with dry wit and an entertaining, self-deprecating point of view. In describing his own experience, Farley Mowat demonstrates how humans tend to misjudge wolves based on deeply ingrained myths and misinformation. As the story unfolds, he systematically chips away at those myths. His observations of wolf behavior were not unlike ours, and his descriptions of the way in which wolves test prey while hunting were particularly informative. We can relate very well to the dramatically different outlook that evolves after spending a significant amount of time observing and getting to know specific wolves.

By Farley Mowat,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Never Cry Wolf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 11, 12, 13, and 14.

What is this book about?

Maxim Gorky, born Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov in 1868 to the low stratum of Russian society, rose to prominence early in life as a writer and publicist. Gorky, who did not have a formal education, became famous in his country and abroad. Writing could not satisfy the rebellious Gorky who soon became involved in revolutionary movements. After a short period with the populist/narodnik movement, Gorky became disillusioned with the peasant class, and, instead, he chose the nascent class of workers as the vehicle for change. It is as if Gorky and capitalism arrived in Russia together. In his view the intelligentsia…

Book cover of Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators

Jim and Jamie Dutcher Why did I love this book?

We still have much to learn about the complex interconnectedness of ecosystems. However, it has become abundantly clear that the absence of apex predators has far-reaching consequences. William Stolzenburg has pulled together a compelling set of examples of vanishing predators and the problems that arise in their absence. In contrast, and of particular interest to us, is the role that reintroduced wolves have played in revitalizing Yellowstone National Park. There is a cautionary tale here that extends far beyond wolves, because the fate of many is inextricably bound with the fate of a few if we are to sustain biodiversity.    

By William Stolzenburg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where the Wild Things Were as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A provocative look at how the disappearance of the world's great predators has upset the delicate balance of the environment, and what their disappearance portends for the future, by an acclaimed science journalist.

It wasn't so long ago that wolves and great cats, monstrous fish and flying raptors ruled the peak of nature's food pyramid. Not so anymore. All but exterminated, these predators of the not-too-distant past have been reduced to minor players of the modern era. And what of it? Wildlife journalist William Stolzenburg follows in the wake of nature's topmost carnivores, and finds chaos in their absence. From…

Book cover of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

Jim and Jamie Dutcher Why did I love this book?

In the prologue, Carl Safina notes that “Science usually steers firmly from the questions about the inner lives of animals.” His book does not. Each animal portrayed in Beyond Words is unapologetically considered a “who” instead of an “it.” We are filmmakers, not scientists, and as we came to know a pack of wolves as individuals, that granted us a freedom to explore questions that science hadn’t asked. Consequently, reading the amazing and often heart-rending stories about wolves, elephants, orcas, and other animals in this touching book resonated with us deeply.  

By Carl Safina,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Beyond Words as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you?

Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina's landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and animals. Travelling to the threatened landscape of Kenya to witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then on to Yellowstone…

Book cover of Decade of the Wolf

Jim and Jamie Dutcher Why did I love this book?

Reflecting on the first decade with wolves back in Yellowstone National Park, this book highlights milestones in the reintroduction effort, takes you out in the field with a wildlife biologist, and shares compelling stories of individual Yellowstone wolves and their packs. With more than 25 years spent overseeing wolves and elk in the park, Doug Smith is a unique authority on wolves and wolf behavior. Around the time our wolf project was coming to an end in the mid-’90s, those first wolves were released into central Idaho and Yellowstone. When we read this book some ten years later, we heard the echoes of our own experience in the behavior and characteristics of the wolves in Yellowstone.

By Douglas W. Smith, Gary Ferguson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Decade of the Wolf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by an award-winning writer and the leader of the Yellowstone Wolf Project, this definitive book recounts the years since the wolves' return to Yellowstone.

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Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

Book cover of Radio Free Olympia

Jeffrey Dunn Author Of Radio Free Olympia

New book alert!

Who am I?

I’ve always been a child of the woods. I preferred to leave my home and wade a creek or explore a hillside. Nothing compared to the sight of a black snake or the feel of a mud puppy. School was a torture until an English teacher introduced me to Richard Brautigan and then read my first serious story to the class. Since then, this dyslexic nature lover has become a dream fisher and history miner with a Ph.D. in English Literature and Cultural Studies. Retired from forty-one years of teaching, I now write and publish cultural fiction.

Jeffrey's book list on where imagination and nature run free

What is my book about?

Embark on a riveting journey into Washington State’s untamed Olympic Peninsula, where the threads of folklore legends and historical icons are woven into a complex ecological tapestry.

Follow the enigmatic Petr as he fearlessly employs his pirate radio transmitter to broadcast the forgotten and untamed voices that echo through the wilderness. Venture deeper and encounter Baie, the founder of Wildsisters, a cranberry-infused roadhouse that offers solace to lost and wayward women. When a newborn is kidnapped, Baie and her community must unite to recover what has been stolen. Yet, their quest for justice extends beyond the realm of human characters—it must also be served for the fragile flora, the diverse fauna, and the very essence of the natural world.

Radio Free Olympia

By Jeffrey Dunn,

What is this book about?

Unleash the Power of the Wilderness in Radio Free Olympia

Discover the captivating allure of Washington's untamed Olympic Peninsula in Radio Free Olympia, an extraordinary literary masterpiece that immerses readers in a mesmerizing realm of visionaries, folklore legends, and historical icons. With an enchanting blend of magical realism and cultural fiction, the brilliant wordsmith Jeffrey Dunn artfully intertwines multiple narratives, crafting an intricate ecological tapestry that resonates deeply within the soul.

Embark on a riveting journey alongside the enigmatic Petr, a foundling whose path leads him deep into the heart of the majestic mountain rainforest. Armed with nothing but a…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in wolves, Yellowstone, and werewolves?

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