Nate is a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly. His first book, Tulia, was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award and won the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Texas Institute of Letters nonfiction award, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2005. The Washington Post called it one of the most important books about wrongful convictions ever written. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his family. Photo credit Jeff Wilson.
Before men ruled the Earth, there were wolves. Once abundant in North America, these majestic creatures were hunted to near extinction by the 1920s. But in recent decades, conservationists have brought wolves back to the Rockies, igniting a battle over the very soul of the West. Award-winning author Nate Blakeslee tells the gripping story of one of these wolves, a charismatic alpha female named O-Six, in his poignant book AMERICAN WOLF: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West (Crown; on sale October 17, 2017). Days after Crown acquired the book, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions picked up the rights, with Scott Cooper (Black Mass) set to direct.
More than four million people visit Yellowstone each year, and wolves are one of the main attractions. Wolf advocates would like to see them remain on the endangered species list; opponents, especially professional hunting guides (whose clients compete with wolves for the elk they both prize) and cattle ranchers (who have lost livestock to wolves), would like to see a wolf-hunting season so that their numbers can be reduced. AMERICAN WOLF is about these opposing forces, told through the lens of the life of one wolf, O-Six, whose own story became entangled in the political strife around her.
O-Six can arguably be called one of the most famous wild animals in our country. She was one of the most visible wolves in Yellowstone at a time when wolf-watching became a common pastime in the park. Beloved by wolf-watchers, particularly Yellowstone park ranger Rick McIntyre and former schoolteacher Laurie Lyman, both featured in the book, O-Six becomes something of a social media star, with followers around the world. But as she raises her pups and protects her pack, O-Six is challenged on all fronts: by hunters and their professional guides; by cattle ranchers who are losing livestock and have the ear of politicians; and by other Yellowstone wolves who challenge her dominance of the stunningly beautiful Lamar Valley in the park’s mountainous Northern Range.
Nate Blakeslee became fascinated with wolves in the winter of 2008, after taking a wolf-watching class in Yellowstone. This is where he saw wolves in the wild for the first time. Drawing on interviews with McIntyre, and Lyman’s extensive wolf-watching diary (over 800,000 words), Blakeslee has re-created the true life story of a wild animal in unprecedented detail.
Fans of Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk, John Vaillant’s The Tiger, Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, and anyone else who loves intimate, true stories of nature, obsession, and survival will be drawn to this riveting multigenerational wolf saga that tells a larger story about the clash of values in the West—and the nation as a whole.