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Publisher's Summary

Tucked away in Siberia, there are furry, four-legged creatures with wagging tails and floppy ears that are as docile and friendly as any lapdog. But, despite appearances, these are not dogs - they are foxes. They are the result of the most astonishing experiment in breeding ever undertaken - imagine speeding up thousands of years of evolution into a few decades. In 1959, biologists Dmitri Belyaev and Lyudmila Trut set out to do just that, by starting with a few dozen silver foxes from fox farms in the USSR and attempting to recreate the evolution of wolves into dogs in real time in order to witness the process of domestication.

Most accounts of the natural evolution of wolves place it over a span of about 15,000 years, but within a decade, Belyaev and Trut's fox breeding experiments had resulted in puppy-like foxes with floppy ears, piebald spots, and curly tails. Along with these physical changes came genetic and behavioral changes, as well. The foxes were bred using selection criteria for tameness, and with each generation, they became increasingly interested in human companionship. Trut has been the lead scientist on this work since Belyaev's death in 1985, and with Lee Dugatkin, biologist and science writer, she tells the story of the adventure, science, politics, and love behind it all.

©2017 Lee Alan Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"The science is profound, but the authors write accessibly and engagingly - and their vulpine subjects are awfully cute, too. Of compelling interest to any animal lover and especially to devotees of canids of all kinds." ( Kirkus

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome story, fantastic book!

This is one of the best books ever! Just the right amount of story telling and science mixing to make for an interesting learning experience and an enthralling, heartwarming story. Loved it!

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

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Amazing

Anyone with a passing interest in Evolution, the story of Charles Darwin and his fateful voyage to the Galapagos, or the journey that Francis and Crick set out upon that led to the discovery of the Immortal Coil, will have heard of Belyaev and his foxes.

I had read about this man and his multi-decade study that has(the study is ongoing) shown the evolutionary effects that artificially selecting for “tameness” in foxes has caused. He is a hero in the arena of evolutionary biology, and less importantly, he is someone that I have looked up to as an intellectual role model since the first time I heard about his story.

Imagine my exuberance when I found that his partner, Lyudmila Trut, had collaborated with Lee Alan Dugatkin to tell the entire story of the foxes! Not second hand from Belyaev’s writings or journals, but from the “horse’s mouth” so to speak.

I knew I wanted to devour this book solely for it’s importance to my scientific understanding of evolution and the effects of artificial selection on future generations.

I didn’t expect for the emotional roller coaster ride that this story took me on. The obstacles that were overcome by this group of people in the face of such foreboding odds is nothing short of miraculous.

This story feels real. It felt like I was there, in “Pushinka’s House”, as the narrator takes us through the accomplishments of that, particularly special fox. The book is beautifully written in this regard, taking the reader on the journey as if they were there. I plan on rereading the book tonight and highly recommend that you make this your next literary choice!


review from 4dogsandalittlelady.com

57 of 62 people found this review helpful

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Lyudmila's Journey To Tame A Fox

I found myself shouting in disbelief at a very shocking event that took place in the house where the fox had lived...I feel for Lyudmila as the story is told of her rewarding yet difficult path she had chosen to research the taming of a fox.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

As a student of biology, this is fascinating

I'm a student of biology and found the study of genetics and behavior to be intriguing

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Endearing as it is thought provoking!

The wonderful narration brings the story of the fox farm to life.

For me, this book brought science out of the laboratory and into my soul. A Grand reminder that the pursuit of understanding can walk hand-in-hand with warmth of heart.

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  • robert
  • heber, UT, United States
  • 07-17-18

Good overall

The story is interesting and flowed well. It isn't a page turner, but one wouldn't expect it to be. There's the usual Darwinian evolution invoked, which makes perfect sense. Obviously within species it's a beautiful theory. The only complaint is with the narrator. He has a way of irritating the hell out of me. His voice is okay, I think it's his slightly melodramatic way of stating regular boring platitudes. Definitely not a bad narrator, he just doesn't do it for me.

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Enjoyable

I don't normally listen to nonfiction but this book was very satisfying. I listened to the whole thing in one day. Narrator was decent, but it wasn't the kind of story that required a lot of acting.

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  • Andrew
  • 05-14-18

Very captivating science and drama

It's not just about the foxes, it's about a history of a lot of things. Foxes. Domestication. Biology. The cold War.

Very captivating and I learnt a lot.

Only complaint is that at times they're a bit too complimentary of people, which sounds a bit propaganday