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Science, history, and gripping narrative bring to life the centuries-long battle to save America’s keystone species.

In the tradition of Peter Matthiessen’s Wildlife in America or Aldo Leopold’s work, Brenda Peterson tells the 300-year history of wild wolves in America. It is also our own history, seen through our relationship with wolves. Native Americans revered them. Settlers jealousy exterminated them. Now, scientists, writers, and ordinary citizens are fighting to bring them back to the wild. Peterson, an eloquent voice in the battle for twenty years, makes the powerful case that without wolves, not only will our whole ecology unravel, but well lose much of our national soul.

WOLF NATION selected as among the 10 Best Conseration and Environment Books of 2017 by Forbes magazine!

Wolf Nation: The Life, Death, and Return of Wild American Wolves by Brenda Peterson (Da Capo Press, 2017; Amazon US / Amazon UK)

"Why are humans so hell-bent on exterminating the last of the wolves? This is the question posed by Seattle-based novelist and nature writer, Brenda Peterson. Peterson’s considerable writing skills shine brilliantly through her engaging, flowing prose as she seamlessly interweaves science, history and memoir in this important and meticulously researched book. Wolf Nation traces 300 years of human interactions with wild wolves in North America. Starting with Native Americans, who venerated them, to the white settlers, who tenaciously worked to exterminate them, we learn about the history of America’s shameful public lands policies that look the other way whilst Big Money and the cattle industry use an astonishing variety of vicious, cruel methods to exterminate wolves -- and indeed, to over-fish and over-hunt all of America’s wildlife. The book includes lots of references to many organizations that are working to preserve wild wolves to thereby restore a functioning ecology . . ."


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Praise for Wolf Nation:

"A gem. Brenda Peterson reveals reveals the complex, social, emotional, and moral lives of wolv­­­­es, their strong family bonds, and their interminable struggle to return to their native wild lands, against all odds. Her stories of individual animals, including OR7 and Yellowstone's most famous wolf, the matriarch 067, show wolves as real characters, with tragedies, a passion for play, family trees, and new generations that give hope for wolf recovery in America. You will never look at wolves in the same way after reading this outstanding and compassionate book."
—Marc Bekoff, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals and The Animal's Agenda

"WOLF NATION is the most original writing on these iconic canids I've read in decades. Brenda Peterson's seamless weave of science and story never fails to surprise and delight. Her chapter "Wolf Music" is particularly breathtaking; it will transform your thinking about both music and wolves. Read this gorgeous, mind-blowing book and prepare to become an ardent advocate for co-existence with animals who turn out to be more like us than most people would have dared imagine." 
—Sy Montgomery, Soul of an Octopus

Library Journey starred Review April 3, 2017

On book tour with wolf biologist and author of The Wolf's Tooth, Cristina Eisenberg and Amaroq Weiss, West Coast Wolf Specialist for Center for Biological Diversity. At Powell's Book event. Both of these passionate wolf advocates are interiewed in WOLF NATION. 

  Praise for WOLF NATION

"Brenda Peterson's passion for America's wolves howls from the pages of this splendid book—a thorough telling of the canines' history, ecology, and fight for survival."
—Jennifer Holland, author of bestselling Unlikely Friendships series

"Brenda Peterson grounds her book about the conservation and ecology of wild wolves in meticulous environmental history and rigorous science and then lifts her voice in a gorgeous, powerful paean to this iconic species, essential if we are to restore whole ecosystems and human hearts. She has the courage to tell stories that need telling, and the literary brilliance to captivate readers, from the first to the last spellbinding chapter."
—Christina Eisenberg, The Wolf's Tooth  

"The most hated, most loved animals on the continent, wolves have been revered by Native Americans but reviled by settlers and ranchers. Wolves are just wolves to wolves, but we cannot decide who wolves are to us. This, their wonderfully crafted story, may help us decide."
—Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

 "Reflecting a lifetime of journalism and advocacy, Peterson’s Wolf Nation is a complex, admirable, immersive overview . . . Gripping and wonderfully lucid, this is both an entrancing and necessary read."

Manhattan Book Review

"The story of how wolves came ot reinhabit the American West is recounted in Brenda Peterson's instructive new book . . . Ms. Peterson has ideal credentials to undertake such a project. A prolific author of books on wildlife . . . she developed an intimate understanding of predators, prey and ecosystems. . . Without a doubt, Ms. Peterson has done her homework."

 Wall Street Journal

Stay tuned for highlights from select chapters, including:

a wolf family raised at Wolf Haven and at last released into the wild ("El Lobo Returns Home")

—Yellowstone’s beloved matriarch wolf ("06: The World’s Most Famous Wolf") and how wolves mourn the loss of a family member

—a wolf who traveled over 1,000 miles to become the first wolf in a century in California ("A Wolf Called Journey")

—an in-depth reporting on the recent controversial killing of the Profanity Peak wolf family here in Washington ("Sheep Highway: Co-existing with Wolves")

—an interview with world-famous pianist, Helene Grimaud, who co-founded New York’s Wolf Conservation Center ("Wolf Music")

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 The story of the Lobo family, Hopa (F1222) and Brother (M1067) wildlife photographer, Annie Marie Musselman and I began in our photo-essay book WOLF HAVEN: Sanctuary and the Future of Wolves in North America. We were fortunate enough to follow this story from the captive-born wolves to their final release into the wild—the largest releasae of a wolf family in Mexico or America. That successful conservation story is worth celebrating as wolves and the Endangered Species Act are again under siege by a new administration. Begin the story in WOLF HAVEN and read about the transport and wild release in WOLF NATION. Photos by Annie Marie Musselman.

Hopa, the matriarch, spring, 2016 as the 28-hour journey begins via van and plane to Ted Turner's Ladder Ranch to prepare for wild release. Hopa is poised but terrified. Imagine wolves with their heightened senses enduring rumble of freeway, roar of a jet engine, and a new Southwest home. Hopa, Brother, and their three male pups were hesitant to leave their plastic carrier kennels after the long journey. But Hopa leapt out first and the family followed.
Hopa, F1222 photo credit: Annie Marie Musselman
 In New Mexico, wolf researchers discover that Hopa is pregnant and soon five more pups join the family. In December, 2016, the family of 11 wolves is released into Mexico. Here is a photo from Mexican scientists right before the night release into a remote Mexican wilderness. La Liberacion . We hope that Hopa, Brother, and the pups thrive!

Photo credits: Mexican wolf release team)

One of the wolf family races out of the kennel crate to freedom in a remote region of Mexico!

 More on the Wolf Haven Facebook page

WATCH Brenda's book tour presentation of EL LOBO Returns Home on YOU Tube

 Newsflash: The children's book of this El Lobo story continues in the forthcoming children's book, LOBOS: A Wolf Family Returns Home, due out from Sasquatch/Penguin books August 18, 2018.  

READ AN EXCERPT from Chapter, "OR7 A Wolf Called Journey" 


 LISTEN TO NPR Interview with author on WOLF NATION 

July, 2016 I attended the "Speak for Wolves" conference and watched the Junction Butte Pack—two wolf sisters who shared the same den with their pups. That story is the last chapter of WOLF NATION.

PRE-ORDER the BOOK on Amazon

 In 1995, I was in Yellowstone to witness and write about the historic reintroduction of wild wolves to Yellowstone in 70 years. That story is in Chapter 5, "Yellowstone: A Wolf's Paradise," in WOLF NATION. On my writing desk I keep a photo of a wolf pup from the first litter born to reintroduced Yellowtone wolves. It is an inspiring reminder of how government and conservation groups worked together to restore wolves to the American wild.

 Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency, 1996


See my blog for links to my in-depth New Dimensions interview now airing and the Orion excerpt from "Wolf Music" just published.

Why do wolves howl? In this chapter excerpt from the new book, WOLF NATION: The Life, Death, and Return of Wild American Wolves Brenda Peterson explores the science and complex musical language of wolf howls. Listen to wolves howling and read an interview with world-renown classical pianist, Helene Grimaud, founder of New York's Wolf Conservation Center.

 LISTEN to the author read the "Wolf Music," excerpt from ORION magazine:

Chicago Review of Books chooses WOLF NATION as a Best Nature Writing book of 2017


Here is one of my favorite illustrators, the master artist, Wendell Minor, with whom I'm publishing a children's book, WILD ORCA: The Oldest, Wisest Whale in the World in 2018 from Macmillan/Christy Ottaviano Books. Wendell has illustrated the ground-breaking work of Jean Craighead George, who wrote Julie of the Wolves, which I write about in my chapter "Raiased by Wolves" in WOLF NATION.

Here is Wendell Minor's gorgeous illustration from George's wonderful kids' book: