Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Wolf Totem

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Wolf Totem

by Rong Jiang

Wolf Totem by Rong Jiang X
Wolf Totem by Rong Jiang
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2008, 544 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2009, 544 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

This article relates to Wolf Totem

Print Review

Wolves as Totems

Although many in the USA will associate totems - objects, animals or plants revered as a symbol of a tribe and often used in rituals - with Native Americans, totems are found in many cultures throughout the world, tracing far back into prehistory. Google the word and you'll find websites such as animaltotem.com, devoted to helping one find ones personal animal or insect totem.

As a Han Chinese with a background in the teachings of Confucius, Chen Zhen has difficulty understanding the importance his Mongol hosts place on the wolf as a totem or symbol of reverence. Especially since the wolf would seem to be their mortal enemy – packs of them prey on herds of Mongol sheep, cattle and horses, threatening their livelihood. However, as Bilgee demonstrates, wolves are a critical link in the delicate chain that preserves the grasslands which are vital to feeding the livestock upon which the rest of China depends. Since wolves also consume gazelles, field mice and marmots who, left unfettered, would eat the grasslands barren, the Mongol herders view them as performing a service, culling their numbers by hunting only when absolutely necessary. On the other hand, the Han Chinese view wolves as enemies worthy only of wholesale annihilation.

Thus, sadly, measures to control the wolf population described in Wolf Totem seem just the beginning of the mass elimination of the species from the steppes of China.

A worldwide debate rages on as to the status of the gray wolf. Ranchers and farmers despise them and oppose any efforts to re-introduce them where the wolf population has been thinned. Proponents see the wolf as an integral part of the world's ecosystem and favor sustaining the species. While Wolf Totem makes a strong case for the latter position, the tactics require a sensitivity to nature that few individuals, and even fewer governments, appear to possess.

Interesting Links:

  • Everything you could want to know about wolves and more at www.wolf.org
  • Frequently asked questions about Inner Mongolia at innermongolia.org, including a map and short history.

This "beyond the book article" relates to Wolf Totem. It originally ran in April 2008 and has been updated for the March 2009 paperback edition.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: In Extremis
    In Extremis
    by Lindsey Hilsum
    International journalist Marie Colvin pushed the limits in her work and her personal life. Widely ...
  • Book Jacket: Vita Nostra
    Vita Nostra
    by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
    Vita Nostra by Ukrainian authors Sergey and Marina Dyachenko is one of those novels that defies ...
  • Book Jacket: And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    by Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness has developed a reputation for experimental literature executed well, and his latest, ...
  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.