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Publisher's Summary

An epic Chinese tale in the vein of The Last Emperor, Wolf Totem depicts the dying culture of the Mongols - the ancestors of the Mongol hordes who at one time terrorized the world-and the parallel extinction of the animal they believe to be sacred: the fierce and otherworldly Mongolian wolf. Published under a pen name, Wolf Totem was a phenomenon in China, breaking all sales records there and earning the distinction of being the second most read book after Mao's little red book. There has been much international excitement too-to date, rights have been sold in thirteen countries.
Wolf Totem is set in 1960s China - the time of the Great Leap Forward, on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. Searching for spirituality, Beijing intellectual Chen Zhen travels to the pristine grasslands of Inner Mongolia to live among the nomadic Mongols - a proud, brave, and ancient race of people who coexist in perfect harmony with their unspeakably beautiful but cruel natural surroundings. Their philosophy of maintaining a balance with nature is the ground stone of their religion, a kind of cult of the wolf. The fierce wolves that haunt the steppes of the unforgiving grassland searching for food are locked with the nomads in a profoundly spiritual battle for survival - a life-and-death dance that has gone on between them for thousands of years. The Mongols believe that the wolf is a great and worthy foe that they are divinely instructed to contend with, but also to worship and to learn from. Chen's own encounters with the otherworldly wolves awake a latent primitive instinct in him, and his fascination with them blossoms into obsession, then reverence.
After many years, the peace is shattered with the arrival of Chen's kinfolk, Han Chinese, sent from the cities to bring modernity to the grasslands.
©2008 Jiang Rong (P)2008 Penguin
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Customer Reviews

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5 out of 5 stars
By sara on 01-13-15

Incredibly moving tale vividly told

How did Inner Mongolia turn from a lush grassland full of wildlife to the desolate desert that blows huge sand storms to Beijing every spring? How did the ancient traditions enable herdsmen maintain the delicate balance between man and nature for thousands of years? How much do you really know about wolves? These are the things I didn't care nor wanted to learn but now deeply love. Read the book.

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4 out of 5 stars
By Geoffrey on 06-02-14

Heart-Breaking

Simply an unbearable story for lovers of the natural world. A difficult book, worth the effort, to be read only once. Not for the weak hearted.

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