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DREAMING OF WOLVES

ADVENTURES IN THE CARPATHIAN MOUNTAINS OF TRANSYLVANIA

A thoroughly enjoyable read for animal lovers and explorers alike.

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An engaging diary of a wolf-finding expedition in Transylvania.

When Sparks, a 45-year-old high tech professional, takes an early retirement package and re-invents his life, he decides to pursue wolf research in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, Romania. Why? “For me,” writes the author, “could anything surpass tracking wolves in the thick forests and deep snow of the northlands, in the wilderness somewhere away from all the high-tech drudgery, the congested traffic and sprawling suburbs, the bustling rush to nowhere? Working to comprehend a different world, a wild world, and maybe helping to protect it as well.” Sparks pursues this adventure after finding a website for the Carpathian Large Carnivore Project, firing off an e-mail and ultimately convincing the project director that he should be allowed to extend his “eco-volunteer” experience well beyond the traditional few weeks. The remainder of the book is essentially comprised of diary entries that provide rare insight into the behavior of wolves, as well as a close-up look at life in the backcountry and small towns of the Carpathian Mountains. The author’s experiences tracking wolves, combined with the people he meets and his descriptions of the locale, make for a compelling and invigorating story. Sparks writes well, even eloquently at times, generously sharing his observations as he learns of the similarities and differences between wolves and dogs. The reader intimately witnesses the relationships the author builds with some of the wolves he studies. And Sparks’ bits of philosophical contemplation brought on by his solitude add depth to the tale. The text is supplemented by excellent color photos that bring all of these elements to life and offer visual validation of the adventure. As wolves have made a resurgence in parts of the United States in recent years, their proximity to humans has lead to some controversy. Sparks’ tale becomes all the more interesting as a documentary of how wolves are viewed in another part of the world.

A thoroughly enjoyable read for animal lovers and explorers alike.

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0888396631

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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