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The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survivalby John Vaillant
A fascinating attempt to see through the eyes of another creature, John Vaillant's The Tiger is an intelligent and beautifully written blend of history, anthropology, zoology, ecology, and adventure. Compelling and resonant, The Tiger is a rare work of nonfiction that reads as urgently as a good novel.
"Tigers are cunning creatures, and the structure of John Vaillant's The Tiger does their craftiness credit. The subtitle reads 'a true story of vengeance and survival,' words chosen to immediately grab one's attention, aided by the ragged, red claw marks scratched into the cover behind them. But, while visceral thrills abound throughout the book, what Vaillant is attempting proves much more elusive (and ultimately more compelling) than any mere story of bloody attacks." Nathan Weatherford, Powells.com (Read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
Its December 1997, and a man-eating tiger is on the prowl outside a remote village in Russias Far East. The tiger isnt just killing people, its annihilating them, and a team of men and their dogs must hunt it on foot through the forest in the brutal cold. As the trackers sift through the gruesome remains of the victims, they discover that these attacks arent random: the tiger is apparently engaged in a vendetta. Injured, starving, and extremely dangerous, the tiger must be found before it strikes again.
As he re-creates these extraordinary events, John Vaillant gives us an unforgettable portrait of this spectacularly beautiful and mysterious region. We meet the native tribes who for centuries have worshipped and lived alongside tigers, even sharing their kills with them. We witness the arrival of Russian settlers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, soldiers and hunters who greatly diminished the tiger populations. And we come to know their descendants, who, crushed by poverty, have turned to poaching and further upset the natural balance of the region.
This ancient, tenuous relationship between man and predator is at the very heart of this remarkable book. Throughout we encounter surprising theories of how humans and tigers may have evolved to coexist, how we may have developed as scavengers rather than hunters, and how early Homo sapiens may have fit seamlessly into the tigers ecosystem. Above all, we come to understand the endangered Siberian tiger, a highly intelligent super-predator that can grow to ten feet long, weigh more than six hundred pounds, and range daily over vast territories of forest and mountain.
Beautifully written and deeply informative, The Tiger circles around three main characters: Vladimir Markov, a poacher killed by the tiger; Yuri Trush, the lead tracker; and the tiger himself. It is an absolutely gripping tale of man and nature that leads inexorably to a final showdown in a clearing deep in the taiga.
"This elegant work of narrative non-fiction has it all — beauty, intrigue, a primeval locale, fully realized characters, and a conflict that speaks to the state of our world....Brilliant....Haunting and enchanting." Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers, Hellhound on His Trail, and Blood and Thunder
"This book must be read by everybody who is interested in the conservation of wildlife." Temple Grandin, Animals Make Us Human
"Magnificent....To call [it] a page-turner is an understatement. It's riveting." Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs and Tribe of The Tiger
"The Tiger is the sort of book I very much like and rarely find....A book not only for adventure buffs, but for all of us interested in wildlife habitat preservation." Annie Proulx
"A richly textured, compelling story of Nature and Man at odds — and at risk....John Vaillant does as much as any mortal hand or eye to frame the 'fearful symmetry' that burns in Blake's 'forests of the night.'" John J. Stephan, author of The Russian Far East
"Absolutely superb." George Schaller, Wildlife Conservation Society vice president, and author of National Book Award winner The Serengeti Lion
The hunt for a man-eating tiger across the forbidding landscape of Russia’s Far East.
When Yuri Trush was called in to investigate an attack by a Siberian tiger, what he found was unlike anything he’d ever encountered. Nothing remained of the victim but stumps of bone protruding from his boots. Even more chilling was the evidence that this attack had been carefully orchestrated, as if the tiger was seeking revenge. Before long, the beast struck again, and Trush, leader of a tiger conservation unit, found himself forced to hunt this animal through the brutal cold of a Siberian winter, becoming intimately acquainted with the tiger’s history, motives, and unique method of attack — until their harrowing final encounter.
John Vaillant recreates these astonishing events against the backdrop of Russia’s most remote frontier, a place where the native peoples worship tigers but poachers threaten the species’ survival. He describes the historic collisions between Chinese and Russian settlers (trappers, thieves, deserters, and exiles), and the struggles of their descendants, who, in the chaotic aftermath of perestroika, turn to poaching to survive — in this case with deadly consequences.
A haunting, gripping exploration of predators and prey, and an intimate portrait of a remarkable animal increasingly threatened by interaction with humans.
A haunting, gripping exploration of predators and prey, and an intimate portrait of a remarkable animal increasingly threatened by interaction with humans, this work recreates the hunt for a man-eating tiger across the forbidding landscape of Russia's Far East.
About the Author
John Vaillant is also the author of The Golden Spruce. He has written for the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and Men’s Journal, among other publications. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife and children.
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