Lee Alan Dugatkin is an evolutionary biologist and historian of science in the department of biology at the University of Louisville. His books include The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness and Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America, the latter also published by the University of Chicago Press. Lyudmila Trut is a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, in Novosibirsk, Siberia. She has been the lead researcher on the silver fox domestication experiment since 1959.
"Profound insights into how dogs evolved from wolves come from a
remarkable, multidecade experiment on foxes that was carried out
under the supervision of the Russian geneticist Dmitri Belyaev from
the 1950s onward. Because much of the research was published in
Russian, How to Tame a Fox, which is cowritten by Lyudmila
Trut--a central figure in the project over many decades--will be
widely welcomed for the extraordinary detail it contains."
--Tim Flannery "New York Review of Books "
"Our furry companions evidently descended from wild wolves--resulting from thousands of years of human selection. Nearly 60 years ago Russian researchers Trut and Dmitri Belyaev decided to domesticate wild foxes to learn in detail how the journey from wild beast to household pet happens. They set up their experiment on a farm in Siberia and over the following decades mated the tamest animals from each successive generation. In this book, biologist and science writer Dugatkin and Trut recount this grand experiment. The result: a host of docile foxes and the identification of the genetic underpinnings for their domestication."
"Written for a general audience, it chronicles the story of a scientific gambit that was more successful that even its creators had dreamed. It's an inspiring reminder of how much we still don't know about the world, and how much can be learned by taking bold chances. It's also a cautionary tale about the risks of state-funded science that has nearly as much relevance to Trump's United States, where federal research budgets are in danger of being slashed right and left, as it does to Stalin's Russia."
--Los Angeles Review of Books
"Written in an accessible style, How to Tame a Fox provides a general reader with an engaging summary of the fox experiments and the people who carried them out. . . . It would make a good book to assign to undergraduate studying the social dimensions of science."
--Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
"Celebrates his [Belyaev's] original insights, his tenacity, and the amazing leadership and hard work by Trut and her dedicated team. . . . Written in a highly accessible style, it is appropriate for both scientists and nonscientists."
--Quarterly Review of Biology
"I have always felt that scientists err in speaking
only about the products of our research and fail to
communicate and discuss the process by which we
create those products. We quite deliberately bury
under the carpet the sources of our hypotheses, the
reasons for our choice of problems to investigate, the
circumstances and constraints under which we
conduct our work and the biases that inevitably creep
into our interpretations. Sadly, the scientific literature
is sanitized to remove all traces of the human, social
and political milieu in which we practice our craft.
This creates an opaque wall between science and
society, leading to avoidable misunderstanding and
mistrust. How to Tame a Fox is the perfect antidote
to this lament. It lays bare all the social and societal
influences that relentlessly work during the course of
scientific research. And yet, contrary to what many
scientists fear, there is not a blemish on the rigour and
precision with which the science is described."
--Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Sciences
This intriguing, well-written account of an ongoing experiment in canid domestication should delight readers interested in the origins of the human-animal bond."
"It is an extraordinary story, and How to Tame a Fox tells it well. . . . By the end of the book, the thesis that wolves may have been no less complicit in the process of their domestication than humans has come to seem entirely probable."--Times Literary Supplement