Narrator George Wilson is both saving grace and driving force in his expert rendition of Franklin's plodding narrative. There's a lot that's interesting in this history of the co-evolution of man and dog, but Franklin ekes it out almost grudgingly, while pouring on a heavy ladle of personal memoir and reflection. Wilson smoothes out and, to an important extent, justifies this imbalance between style and substance, providing a balance and purposefulness the text sometimes lacks. Recommended for those who love stories of the dog novice who's eventually won over, and then heartbroken, by the frolics, intelligence, instinct, and all-too-brief domestic career of one irresistible pooch.
As the intellectual pursuit of his subject began to take over Franklin's life, he married a dog lover and was quickly introduced to an ancient and powerful law of nature: love me, love my dog. Soon Franklin was sharing hearth and home with a soulful and clever poodle named Charlie. And so began one man's journey to the dogs, an odyssey that would take him from a 12,000-year-old grave to a conclusion so remarkable as to change our perception of ourselves.
Building on evolutionary science, archaeology, behavioral science, and the firsthand experience of watching his own dog evolve from puppy to family member, Franklin posits that man and dog are more than just inseparable; they are part and parcel of the same creature. Along the way, The Wolf in the Parlor imparts a substantial yet painless education on subjects as far-ranging as psychological evolution and neurochemistry.
In this groundbreaking book, master storyteller Franklin shatters the lens through which we see the world and shows us an unexpected, enthralling picture of the human/canine relationship.
©2009 Jon Franklin; (P)2009 Tantor
"A welcome - and surprising - view into the canine soul from somebody who clearly understands and loves dogs." (Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of the international best seller Dogs Never Lie About Love)
I enjoyed this book though it was not quite what I expected. It does start out slow, stating information about human brain chemistry and wolf brain chemistry and how they relates to the evolution of the dog. However, it eventually comes together and you realize why the author goes into such detail. There are some cute stories about the author's dog, but I would have liked more anectodes. I was hoping for more information about the evolution of specific dog breeds and their orginal uses which did come up briefly, but was definitely not enough. The narrator does an excellent job. This book was just not quite what I expected, but if you are a true dog lover or are just interested in evolutionary science you will probably enjoy this book. If you are looking for anectodes and practical information about dogs, this book will probably be too slow and scientific for you.
I have enjoyed this book tremendously. The author is a science writer who, at the beginning of the book, has little to no interest in dogs. He meets a woman who he eventually marries and who insists that they get a puppy. This sparks his interest and he is intrigued by why we have this other species occupying such a privileged position in our lives. He uses his talent as a science writer to cover a broad range of science issue that shed light on the relationship between humans and dogs. This book is in some ways similar to Patricia McConnell's "For the Love of a Dog" except her book is heavier in neurobiology and this book is stronger in evolution. Both books are excellent. I highly recommend this book as well as hers.
Having just finished John Bradshaw's "Dog Sense" and hoping to find another good book on the evolution of dogs, I was excited to see all the reviews that said that "The Wolf in the Parlor" had too much science in it. Just my style.
Unfortunately, this book doesn't actually contain much science. It contains the coherent, well-written, and entertaining musings of a guy who does a little research and then spends a lot of time thinking about what it might mean. It's an enjoyable journey that touches here and there on actual science, but it's mostly speculation and anecdotes.
Did I enjoy this book? Yes. Did I learn anything from it? No.
The author is really full of himself. He readily generalizes all the awful characteristics of many pure breeds and mixed, e.g. terriers and their owners are basically nasty in temperament. But his poodle can do no wrong (oh, except the poodle seems to undress him with his eyes, but that was just during puppy hood, he out grew his one fault). Not only is his poodle perfectly trained, but the author states in amazement that the dog howls in perfect pitch to his wife's piano playing THEN a few chapters later the author discusses his own color blindness and tone deafness. Really now, if he is tone deaf how would he have any clue as to the perfect pitch of his poodle? That's when I realized this author really is just so full of himself and delivering surely completely biased psudo-information. Sorry I wasted a credit on it.
Nice reading voice, and he definitely relayed the conceit of the author well.
Yes, it go me so annoyed I actually rated and reviewed something online, something that I rarely do.
The proposal to the publishers must have been impressive: cutting edge research on dog-wolf and human paleo-history correlated by a science journalist, alongside musings on his personal relationship with his dog. The formula didn't quite crystallize. The author's theories on the co-development of the human and canine brains were not very convincing, and while his praise for his wife's dog and all other standard poodles rang true, it seemed too generic.
His denigration of mixed-breed dogs rankled. I didn't let my shelter-rescued mutts listen.
On the whole, the book was informative and interesting, but did not meet my expectations.
I unequivocally recommend this book to all my friends, and have bought copies for a choice few. I've read this book twice and listened to the audiobook. I think its one of the most important works examining our place in the modern ecological world to be written in the last 50 years. There is obviously a deep, undying relationship between human and canine that has gone grossly under-researched given that of all the domesticated animals, the dog seems to be the only animal to which we continue our domesticated relationship into urban and suburban areas. It deserves more thought and attention because it's not the insight into the canine that is important, it is the insight into ourselves that holds the key.
Charlie, of course!
This is the only book of his to which I've listened, but I've read others.
There are so many ah-ha moments in this book, but the section where the author draws a parallel into the shrinking of the human brain in evolutionary history coinciding with the proportional growth in the canine brain, that gives chills.
I would go so far as to recommend this book for high school science teachers looking for a tangible way to teach about evolution, which captivates and maintains student interest as well as involves students in a very personal way (most will have dogs in their homes).
Jon is a likeable guy. Not too stubborn or rigid with a drole sense of humor. I love how his wife could guide him into life with dogs. Jon shared his daily life with Charlie and Charlie's relationship with Lynne, his wife. Jon refers himself to be the "Omega" in the pack that is their family unit of wife, man and dog.
I enjoyed how he could talk about the science he was digging up on the origins of the dog (follower wolves) and their developing relationship with man and woman then share all his speculations about this information.
I anticipated what he would conclude all through the book. I was surprised by the last 2 chapters because of all the detail he could put the pieces together. He helped give me a new perspective on the thousands and thousands of years that bought about the development of our world today. It makes sense to me!
Jon - it was remarkable how quickly he came into sync with Charlie.
Yes, George Wilson was the perfect narrator for this book.
It's a good mix of some interesting brain sciene, studies of the wolf, with really good dog stories. George Wilson has a casual reading style that adds to the book.
I have listened to this book more than once, and have shared the stories with many friends.
The intro line is so relavent it go something like this "the certainies you held in your 20's become obsurities in your 50's" Oh, how true. This author has some really great insights.
The only reason I finished this book is because I paid for it. I got the impression that the author was VERY impressed with himself, but I didn't learn one thing about ANY connection between humans and dogs--as a matter of fact, dogs seemed to be an afterthought.
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