cover image The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog

The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog

Rick McIntyre. Greystone, $27.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-77164-521-8

McIntyre (War Against the Wolf), a longtime naturalist who specializes in wolves, begins a new trilogy centered on Yellowstone’s packs, using his observational and storytelling skills to make the animals relatable but not overly anthropomorphized. He follows the 1995 reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone through the stories of two individuals: Wolf 8 (out of the 14 animals originally released into the park), the runt of one pack who moves into the role of alpha of another, and Wolf 21, one of the pups of 8’s new mate, whose previous partner was killed by a poacher. Touching on the nature/nurture debate, McIntyre looks at 8’s seemingly paternal relationship with 21, who reveals many personality traits in common with his brave, gregarious, and loyal “stepfather.” This narrative finally builds to a dramatic peak, with a clash between the aged 8 and full-grown 21, now head of another pack, seemingly inevitable. Throughout, McIntyre schools the reader in wolf behaviors, such as the “play bow” used to initiate friendly interactions, and draws endearing comparisons between his own childhood and wolf family life. However, his greatest strength is the quiet respect and wonder with which he regards his subjects, a quality clearly informed by decades of careful watching and suffused throughout this thoughtful book.[em] (Oct.) [/em]