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Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn

Neither Wolf Nor Dog Cover

Sometimes a book tells a wonderfully enchanting story. Sometimes it is nonfiction and conveys information. There are a few books that are able to do both. Out of those few books that do both, there are a handful that can really cause you to question the reality that you have known as truth. Neither Wolf, Nor Dog, by Kent Nerburn, is one of those special books. 

Nerburn’s book is a true story. When he was a young anthropologist who specialized in Native Americans, he was invited to meet with an Indian Elder in order to write down his thoughts and memories. After Nerburn accepts the challenge, he and Dan, the Lakota elder, begin to go across the Black Hills on a spiritual journey that is both mystical and enlightening.


The reader is swept away with Dan’s memories and reflections of the Lakota people. Sometimes this book caused me to laugh out loud and sometimes I was brought to tears. But I was always entertained by the author’s storytelling ability and natural flow of this book.
 
Native Americans use storytelling to convey an idea or set of beliefs, which is what Nerburn had to do with this memoir. Throughout the book, Nerburn was aware that Dan’s story was probably the most important thing that he may ever write, and he was always frightened that he would not do Dan’s story justice. 
 
 However, this book shared so much of Dan’s personality that even if the reader does not always agree with Dan’s assessment of the world, they can not help but have feelings of love for the 80-year-old man. This touching and haunting memoir of Dan is ultimately an inspiring and unforgettable look at our past, as well as our dreams for the future.