In war,' the old man said, 'wolves are smarter than men. We Mongols learned from them how to hunt, how to encircle, even how to fight a war. There are no wold packs where you Chinese live, so you haven't learned to fight a war. You can't win a war just because you have lots of land and people. No, it depends on whether you're a wolf or a sheep.'
It is the 1960s, and Beijing intellectual Chen Zhen volunteers to live in a remote nomadic settlement on the Inner Mongolian grasslands. There, he discovers an age-old synergy between the nomads, their livestock, and the wild wolves who roam the plains. Chen learns about the rich spiritual relationship that exists between these adversaries, and what each might learn from the other.
But when members of the People's Republic swarm in from the cities to bring modernity and productivity to the grasslands, the peace of Chen's solitary existence is shattered, and the delicate balance between humans and wolves is disrupted. Only time will tell whether the grasslands' environment and culture will ever recover...
A beautiful and moving portrayal of a land and culture that no longer exists, Wolf Totem is also a powerful portrait of modern China and a fascinating insight into the country's view of itself, its history and its people.