Synopses & Reviews
It's December 1997 and a man-eating tiger is on the prowl outside a remote village in Russia's Far East. The tiger isn't just killing people, it's annihilating them, and a team of men and their dogs must hunt it on foot through the forest in the brutal cold. To their horrified astonishment it emerges that the attacks are not random: the tiger is engaged in a vendetta. Injured and starving, it must be found before it strikes again, and the story becomes a battle for survival between the two main characters: Yuri Trush, the lead tracker, and the tiger itself.
As John Vaillant vividly recreates the extraordinary events of that winter, he also gives us an unforgettable portrait of a spectacularly beautiful region where plants and animals exist that are found nowhere else on earth, and where the once great Siberian Tiger - the largest of its species, which can weigh over 600 lbs at more than 10 feet long - ranges daily over vast territories of forest and mountain, its numbers diminished to a fraction of what they once were. We meet the native tribes who for centuries have worshipped and lived alongside tigers - even sharing their kills with them - in a natural balance. We witness the first arrival of settlers, soldiers and hunters in the tiger's territory in the 19th century and 20th century, many fleeing Stalinism. And we come to know the Russians of today - such as the poacher Vladimir Markov - who, crushed by poverty, have turned to poaching for the corrupt, high-paying Chinese markets. 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 once fit seamlessly into the tiger's ecosystem.
Above all, we come to understand the endangered Siberian tiger, a highly intelligent super-predator, and the grave threat it faces as logging and poaching reduce its habitat and numbers - and force it to turn at bay.
Beautifully written and deeply informative, The Tiger is a gripping tale of man and nature in collision, that leads inexorably to a final showdown in a clearing deep in the Siberian forest.
The long-awaited new book from Governor General's Literary Award-winning author John Vaillant.
On December 4, 1997, Yuri Trush — head of the "Inspection Tiger" unit in Primorye Province, in the Far East of Russia — gets the call. The next morning, he and his men climb into an old army truck and head for the desolate village of Pereval. The rundown cabin they arrive at belongs to Vladimir Markov. The temperature is ten below zero, but it's not just the cold that freezes Trush and his men. Drag marks lead from the cabin to the woods nearby. The snow is dappled pink. A bloody jacket sleeve lies on the ground. Trush follows the gruesome trail: a dog's foot; a glove; a cartridge belt. Eventually Trush's men discover Markov's only remains: a pair of boots with stumps of broken bone protruding from the tops.
Trush begins to track the Siberian tiger that killed Markov. Unnerving details continue to emerge. While it's never easy to tell fact from rumour in Primorye, it's clear that another man has been eaten in a nearby village — but not without vainly emptying his rifle into the animal that attacked him. Injured and nearly starving, the tiger Trush is looking for couldn't be more dangerous.
Nestled in the remotest corner of Russia, near the Chinese border, Primorye has always been more or less off the map. It's a traditional home for thieves, trappers, deserters and anyone with a history too sordid to fit in elsewhere. The few people who remain there subsist mainly by poaching, a practice that officials like Trush often overlook out of pity — as long as no one stands to get hurt too badly.
But as deaths in Primorye continue to stack up, Trush takes out a permit to kill the tiger. Over the next week, he and his men set out on a breathtakingly dangerous hunting trip. Tiger Hunting deftly intertwines the narrative of Trush's wild — and increasingly desperate — chase with the bitter history of Primorye's hard-bitten inhabitants.
About the Author
JOHN VAILLANT's first book was the national bestseller The Golden Spruce, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction, as well as several other awards. He has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Outside, National Geographic and The Walrus, among other publications. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife and children.
Table of Contents
Part One | Markov |
Part Two | Pochepnya |
Part Three | Trush |
A Note on Translation