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Start your review of The Lost Wolves of Japan. Very interesting, if a tad too scholarly for my taste, Walker's study explores ecological and cultural history of the Japanese wolves. But, I admit, I was a bit dissapointed.


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I expected more folklore than the author provides, even though he went through the sources and could write this chapter at least twice as long; 4. I expected more folklore than the author provides, even though he went through the sources and could write this chapter at least twice as long; instead, he decided to gloss over or summarize the stories briefly. Edit: In a somewhat sad little turn, Walker's Epilogue about robotic dogs and his prediction - that Japan, having exterminated the real wolf, would produce animatronic versions of the animals that once roamed the mountains as deities and demons - came true earlier this year.

A robot wolf is now protecting crops from wild boars in Japan.

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Edit 2: I feel compelled to round up my rating to 5 stars, despite the stuff I've mentioned, as it has been such a great read that I keep coming back to. It isn't perfect, but I can't expect one book to cover all that I wish to know. Jun 16, Kaytlin Newlun rated it really liked it. I read this for a class expecting it to be unbelievably boring, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but that may be because I like wolves. At some parts the author definitely does drone on with facts and numbers, but he also has parts where he tells gripping stories. Feb 14, Aaron rated it really liked it.

A very well-researched and poignant look at the cultural transformation and extinction of the Japanese wolf. Sep 30, Alessandra rated it really liked it. By integrating a cultural history of the Japanese wolves into discussion of wolf ecology and biology, Walker reminds us that our own emotions and perceptions of the natural world can inform our treatment of it. Wolves too, Walker provocatively suggests, have a rich emotional life that plays into this story of decline. My main quibble—and it is truly a quibble—is with the structure of this monograph. Why end a book that spotlights the unceremonious killing of countless wolves with a conversation about the debates among Japanese scientists on the ecological factors that also precipitated wolf decline?

I felt that book rich with emotion, stacked with evidence of human-induced wolf extermination, ended with a rather sanitized accounting of scientific points of view.

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One of the most powerful scenes in the book is his description of a kill site. As Walker approached the fascinatingly grotesque scene of a butchered elk, he invites us to consider how many ranchers from Japan also stood over a carcass desecrated by wolves, surrounded by wolf urine and feces. Human emotional responses to the natural world impacted our construction of it and our future engagements with it. Much the same can be said, Walker suggests, for wolves. Then why conclude a narrative rich with emotion with an intellectual debate over wolf extinction?

There is something too sterile about this chapter that removes the feelings Walker considers so crucial to his text.

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Aug 20, Rick Lamplugh rated it really liked it. The human drive to take territory from wolves, to annihilate these competitors, and to create wolf haters is crystalized in Brett Walker's The Lost Wolves of Japan. The story begins around Then, the Japanese regarded wolves as deities, worshipped them at shrines, even left ceremonial dishes of red beans and rice next to wolf dens.

The country had no large scale livestock industry and farmers saw the wolf as an ecological partner: the wolves killed the boars and deer that ate grain crops. During the s, the reverence for wolves dimmed as the human population swelled, encroached on wolf territory, and fostered human-wolf conflict. Some rabid wolves killed humans; and all of a sudden there was a bounty on wolves and the stirring of wolf hatred.

At that time, modernization meant developing scientific agriculture and raising livestock on huge, new ranches, as Americans had done so successfully. Those ranches would be carved out of wolf territory. Wolves had to go. In the Japanese government hired Edwin Dun, a rancher from Ohio, to help create the livestock industry and eradicate wolves. Dun went to work on the northern tip of Japan, on undeveloped Hokkaido, an island just a bit smaller than Ireland.

Dun was, after all, a veteran American rancher.

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He knew how to eliminate wolves: bounties and strychnine. The Japanese kept records of the rampage: By , wolves had been killed. By , wolves were extinct. It took only thirty-two years—less than the average life span of a citizen—for the Japanese to go from worshipping wolves at shrines to wiping them out with strychnine. The key was for the Japanese government to shift the cultural perception of the wolf from deity to demon. Dec 23, DeLene Beeland rated it really liked it. The Lost Wolves of Japan is a first-rate academically-oriented text that combs through the natural and cultural history of wolves on the Japanese archipelago.

Author Brett Walker used historical research methodologies to frame an inquiry into what the Japanese wolf was, and what led to its extinction.


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If you like historical detail, this book serves it up in helping after generous helping. Walker explores many different themes in The Lost Wolves of Japan, most of which are centered around people, The Lost Wolves of Japan is a first-rate academically-oriented text that combs through the natural and cultural history of wolves on the Japanese archipelago.

Walker explores many different themes in The Lost Wolves of Japan, most of which are centered around people, culture, wolves and nature. He pokes and prods the relationships of these entitites to each other by using various historical lenses. There are also maps of wolf-people conflicts and wolf-kill sites, which are helpful for understanding the different phases of interactions people had with wolves on these islands.

View 2 comments. The Lyons Press, Guilford. Teuliere, J-M Le loup en Limousin. Lucien Souny Limousin Nature Environnement. Key literature Bibikow, D. Der Wolf. Ziemsen Verlag, Wittenberg Lutherstadt. Derix, R. The social organisation of wolves and African wild dogs.

PhD thesis, University of Utrecht. Eisenberg, C. Keystone predators, trophic cascades and biodiversity. Island Press, Washington. Fox, M.