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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2012
Meat Eater does something simple, but amazing: it presents hunting, fishing, and trapping for what they really are: a primal connection to wild creatures through using their bodies to fulfill our most basic needs.

Steven Rinella skipped the contorted, snobbish, and apologetic philosophical hogwash that has characterized generations of hunting literature. He skipped the self-indulgent glamor of hunting trophy kill tales. This is not hunting pornography; it's real stories about a real hunter pursuing animals for all the reasons that people actually do that.

The book is composed of stories that illustrate these various motivations to hunt. As a child, it was because his dad and brothers did. In college, because he needed food. He went crazy for steelhead and bonefish fishing because it was so damn exciting. He hunted for adventure in the Missouri Breaks, and Dall sheep for the challenge. And always, it was for every one of those reasons--and to satisfy a deep, primal, desire that needs to explanation or apology. And yeah, to get meat.

There's another thing about these stories--they're awesome. Really well-written, and full of subtle insight. I read the whole thing within 20 hours of getting the book in my hand. As an avid hunter who spends many winter nights reading about it, I felt, "finally, someone who thinks about hunting like I do."

Rinella doesn't shy away from the moral and ethical questions that surround hunting, fishing, and trapping (hereafter I'll refer to them all as "hunting, because they are). He explores them not in an abstract sense, but from the more credible point of view of his own personal experiences. He doesn't cowardly justify trapping with imaginary ecology (saying that the animals are overpopulated); he speaks of the youthful fantasies of fronteir life that fueled his passion to live as a trapper. He isn't afraid to challenge some hunting practices, or to describe death in its real and vivid detail. He isn't afraid of the emotion that electrifies the hunting experiences; he taps into it and makes the reader remember and relive (if it's a hunter) or understand (for non-hunters) how real it is.

That is the book's power: it's the first true hunter/non-hunter crossover book, that speaks intelligently to both sides and tackles the questions that both sides grapple with. But after all that is said, he stays grounded in the most basic fact: hunting is about food. In that sense, it is as morally unassailable as gardening and gathering.

My only problem with the entire book was a factual one, in which Rinella mentions that Africa and the Americas were overrun by Europeans because they were populated by hunter-gatherers. Actually, sub-saharan Africa was not overrun (the people there still have dark skin) precisely because that continent was fully agricultural way before European colonialism--the takeover of forager territory by agriculturalists in Africa had occurred thousands of years earlier by other people from within Africa.

That notwithstanding, this is the best narrative or philosophical hunting book I've ever read, and the first I'd recommend to anybody.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2012
Really? A guy living in Brooklyn writes a book about hunting? What you might think isn't even close. He's not some odd kind of metrosexual without the aversion to wild game. Nor is he a casual hunter who occasionally escapes Gotham for an upstate camp where deer hunting is incidental to which beer goes best with what's in the camp's stew pot.

Enter Steven Rinella. Born in Michigan and groomed for hunting by a culture where kids can still grow up dreaming of being the next Jeremiah Johnson, Rinella actually made his boyhood hunting dreams happen. A blend of Daniel Boone, Jim Bridger and Tom Sawyer, he hesitates not at all to strike out for the territory ahead with traps, fishing rods, bows and guns.

If anyone cares a lick about understanding what makes hunters tick, this is exactly the book to read. If modern hunters need confirmation for what they do and why, here it is. And if non-hunters (or anti-hunters) will risk reading a book about hunting that will threaten their preconceptions, this is the one.

Time will tell, but Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter has what it will take to be a high water mark among twenty-first century essays on hunting. It's well written, thoughtful, respectful, and it's right.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2012
I thoroughly enjoy hunting stories and Meat Eater contains an abundant collection written in a conversational narrative. Steve Rinella, has built up a very impressive outdoor resume with hunting and fishing excursions all-around the globe. These adventurous stories are highly entertaining but also manage to tackle the philosophical questions of "why he hunts," "who he is as a hunter" and "what hunting means to him personally."

As a resident of the Michigan, I appreciate Steve's early tales about trapping, fishing and hunting with his family throughout the Great Lake State. It is also readily apparent that the author has a deep appreciation for the history of hunting as there are several accounts that highlight the adventurous, hunting spirit of Daniel Boone, John Colter, Lewis and Clark and more.

Successful hunts lead to delicious meals and Rinella shares a variety of cooking techniques and recipes for various wild-game. I appreciated his pleasurable description of eating Alaskan black bear that he deep fried utilizing the blue berry flavored fat from the bruin. If you have an adventurous heart, than I think that you will enjoy this book. I know that I did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2012
Meat Eater is a fantastic read that I would recommend to anyone. Outdoor writer and TV show host, Steven Rinella, shares the hunting stories from his past that have molded him into the person that he is today. He explains his love for hunting and the outdoors when he was growing up in Michigan. He explores hunting for various types of game and the things he learned from these various experiences. He reflects deeply on hunting in general, trapping, fishing (which he considers a form of hunting), hunting ethics, the beliefs of non-hunters, and culinary tips for preparing wild game. Much like his previous book, American Buffalo, Rinella takes us on a spiritual journey through the past and through our own souls. I enjoy Rinella's writing and enjoy watching his TV show (also called MEATEATER). This was a heartwarming and amazing read that makes me anxiously look forward to his next book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2012
Finally, a book by a hunter who thinks like I do. I found myself totally engaged by this book; I appreciated his honesty. It really is true, men (and some women) usually hunt because their fathers do. Great discussion of ethics and hunting as well as really interesting discussion of the bonds formed when hunting, in Rinella's case with his father and brothers. I enjoyed his perspective especially because he hunts to eat, as I do, and not to put a silly set of horns on the wall.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2014
As a hunter, this book struck a chord with me across several emotions. Rinella frames a hunting ethos through personal accounts in which many sportsmen can draw parallels upon. This book is very poignant today as hunting and the image of hunting is being diminished. I would suggest this book to all sportsmen and non sportsmen alike.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
For the first two hundred years of the history of this country, hunting was a necessity, not a past time. This was especially true of the settlers, trying to establish farms on the American frontier. As time went on, and the frontier disappeared, hunting became less of a necessity for most, though it was still an important source of dietary protein for those in poor and rural areas. Today, there are still those who hunt for subsistence, but they're a vanishing breed. And yet hunting is on the rise today.

Hunters can be divided into four main groups. First, there are still some subsistence hunters, people living on the Alaskan frontier or far off the grid. Then there are the new hunters, those looking for adventure, for a connection with the past, and escape from city life. The new crop of hunting shows and magazines appeal to them. Then there are those who might be termed foodie hunters. They're looking for something you can't buy in the stores, and often for a physical connection with their food. And finally, there are those who grew up with the tradition of hunting in their families. Steven Rinella is that sort of hunter.

Rinella grew up up in Michigan, in a part of the state we Detroiters refer to as "outstate"- that is, outside of Southeast Michigan, where most of the population lives. Now Michigan is a place where everything stops two weeks of the year for an annual ritual called Deer Hunting. Stores close, factories shut down, and construction stops. But for those who grow up outside the city limits, the hunting never really stops. There are rabbits, squirrels, partridges, fox, coyote, and a dozen other animals whose seasons extend and overlap throughout the year. For many Michiganders, hunting is not so much a hobby as it is a part of life.

Rinella lives in Brooklyn now- not exactly prime hunting land- but he still celebrates the traditions of hunting. These days, though, he's more likely to be fishing in Vietnam or tracking Elk in Alaska than to be shooting snowshoe hares in Michigan. What's constant through all his hunting, from his youth onward, is his ethic of hunting- something missing form a lot of modern city raised hunters. To the traditional hunter- and by that I mean anyone who grew up in a society that celebrated hunting, be they Plains Indians or rural Michiganders, taking an animal's life is not a trivial thing. For any such hunter, the taking of an animal is always accompanied by a moment in which we thank the animal for their gift. Maybe not explicitly, but there's always that acknowledgement.

Part of that is the commitment to the notion that game should never be wasted. One thing, Rinella tells us, that makes him angry is the wasting of game or fish. Hunters who fail to make full use of a n animal, or who end up letting it spoil, or freezer bruin, and discard it- that shows disrespect for the animal, one for the tradition. Part of this tradition comes from a time when wasted meat might be the difference between life and death, and finding an animal in the winter truly was a gift.

This book is a series of stories from Steven Rinella's life, beginning with his first hunt. The stories are interesting in themselves, but they're also part of a larger story about he development of an ethic of hunting and an appreciation of the natural world. I've often heard non-hunters, every one of them meat eaters, say that the whole point of hunting is the kill. Rinbella points out that if that were the case, it would be easier to volunteer at the humane society or at a slaughterhouse. Many times the hunter will return empty handed, but still consider it a successful hunt, at least in part. Hunting is in part a sport, characterized by the pursuit and the kill, but it's also something much deeper, a way to get as close to nature as possible by becoming part of the process, part of the food chain. Only by taking your food from the natural world can you truely appreciate what a gift it is.

Those who have hunted and fished, and who grew up doing so, will find much in Rinella's stories that they can identify with, and more than a few good tips that will make them better hunters, anglers and trappers. Those who have never hunted will find a great deal of insight into what it is that makes so many of us head out to the woods to gather our own food at the source.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2012
This is an outstanding and very enjoyable book for those of us that live to hunt and fish. I'm sure it won't happen but I wish people that don't hunt or have an aversion to hunting would read it. Steve makes so much sense and probably explains why we love what we do better then anyone else I've read. (With the possible exception of Ted Nugent) It's refreshing to know that a younger generation then mine still grew up active in the outdoors. With Steve and his brothers it was easy to understand the love they had not only for each other but for everything outdoors. I will be buying a copy of this book for each of my Grandkids and hope that they read it from cover to cover and one day, if not now, get as much out of it as I have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2012
This book hits two things that were important to me. First it just tells hunting stories as I like to tell my own and as like hearing from others. I felt like I was there.
And the other big take away from this book was new vocabulary and thought process for when I talk to non hunters and anti hunters. Steve has a great way of leveling the playing field and doesnt let the anti hunters put him down. He simply gives a different perspective when a potential argument could arise.
Its an overall great read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2013
I greatly enjoy the "Meat Eater" TV series and Steven Rinella as a host. I was however a little disappointed in this book. I had hoped for a book I would want to read over and over, but once was enough for me. Just hoped for a little more excitement, and it just isn't there. So, I will just keep watching the show.
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