Part travelogue, part memoir, part exposition of natural and cultural history, Dreaming of Wolves presents a unique and colourful story of adventure. Through a series of entertaining vignettes, the author paints an intimate and intricate picture of nature and life as it occurs in a fascinating part of Europe that has remained largely untouched by modern trends and undiscovered by western travellers, at least until recently.
Whether joining the narrator as he tracks wolves in the forests of the Carpathian Mountains, or battles antagonistic shepherd dogs, or sits on the floor of a cave contemplating time and consciousness, or makes a journey through history to discover the real Dracula, as one reads Dreaming of Wolves one absorbs, almost without realising it, a remarkable amount of factual information about wolves, about traditional and rural life in Romania, about the history of Romania, about animal behaviour, and even about physics.
Written in an understated style, the story is related with an honesty and a subtle sense of humour that derives from events perceived by a keen and sensitive eye. Dreaming of Wolves presents several sub-themes – such as, the importance of conserving wilderness, the value of discovering self through uncovering and pursuing one's dreams, the nature of time and consciousness – all of which are woven smoothly into the fabric of a well-told story. The author's beautiful colour photographs of the people, animals and locales enhance the narrative and help the reader to understand the cultural and historical perspectives that influence life in Romania today.
"Life flashes past many eyes: resident, tourist, voyageur, even those of wolves. Dreaming of Wolves provides introspection through the eyes of a wolf. Alan's journey explores an inward look at mid-life crises, personal feeling, community economics, ethnic survival, cultural bias, and national politics while trying to [understand the life] of a pack of Romanian wolves. To know life, his life, the author travels to a remote, foreign setting seeking knowledge about wolves, and learns about himself. Yes, it is a travelogue, a personal adventure, but it is also a narrative explaining wolf ecology and behavior versus rural cultural integrity and history. Read it to understand wolves and to understand people at the delicate interface were a few wolves exist almost secretively next to rural people still attached to their lands and agricultural practices. I recommend Alan's work not only as a natural history reference but for showing that we can exist with wild animals even as planet earth approaches an overflowing human population."
- Dr. James C. Halfpenny, President, A Naturalist's World and author of Yellowstone Wolves in the Wild, Field Guide to Mammal Tracking in North America, and Winter: An Ecological Handbook
"[Provides] 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[...] A thoroughly enjoyable read for animal lovers and explorers alike."
- Kirkus Discoveries