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The Tribe of Tiger Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Reissue edition (June 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743426894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743426893
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This latest animal book from the author of The Hidden Life of Dogs will have ailurophiles purring. If she were a captive tiger, Thomas tells us that she'd prefer to be in a circus rather than a zoo--the big top is more stimulating. She compares the quality of life for captive animals in zoos and circuses, introduces circus tigers and their trainers and visits a tiger training school in northern Illinois. Thomas begins by defining cats as meat-eaters, all, then examines cat culture as it evolved to the present time. We meet Ruby, a domesticated puma, and several generations of barn and house cats. Thomas relates an astonishing tale about Bushmen and a pride of lions in the Kalahari Desert. But the most enthralling of her subjects in this thoroughly captivating book proves to be the tiger. Illustrations. 225,000 first printing; first serial to Atlantic Monthly; author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Intrigued by the hunting behavior of her pet cats and those in the neighborhood, particularly since they did not need to hunt in order to survive, Thomas has penned a study of the cat family that could well become a best seller like her Hidden Life of Dogs (LJ 4/15/93). Thomas was criticized for the dog-care practices and conclusions of that book, but her new work does not suffer from her unapologetically anthropomorphic view of the animal kingdom. In Part 1, Thomas engages in an entertaining and enlightening discussion of the history of carnivores, specifically cats. Part 2 focuses on the "culture" of cats, defined as a "web of socially transmitted behaviors." Part 3 explores the future of cats and addresses the issue of their captivity, particularly in zoos and circuses. One may not always agree with Thomas's conclusions or methodology, but her artistry is always engrossing and provocative. A delightful book for those who don't mind Thomas's sometimes wild observations.
--Edell Marie Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., Wis.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book is filled with very interesting information on our feline friends.
Christine
Not what I expected, too much of the background of bigger cats with emphasis on killing instinct, though I know that is what cats do.
M. Beltner
This is without doubt one of the best books on animal behavior I have ever read.
Dennis Littrell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is without doubt one of the best books on animal behavior I have ever read. What Thomas does that others do not (and often cannot) is three-fold:
First, using her long experience with animals both domestic and wild, she INTERPRETS their behavior from her observations. Most of us do that, but scientists in general do not. They cannot because such interpretations, unless established scientifically, would be labeled "anthropomorphic," and prove dangerous to their careers. You and I interpret the behavior of our animals, but most of us have only a small fraction of the experience that Elizabeth Thomas has. She has spent decades in the wild, especially in Africa, studying animals and their interactions with humans.
This interaction between humans and their way of seeing the world and that of cats and their way of seeing the world--our differing "cultures" as Thomas rightly uses the term--is the second thing she does so very well. Her stories about how the Ju/wasi people, for example, treat lions and how the lions treat them--with mutual respect--and how that differs from the way non-indigenous people treat lions is just fascinating to read. She describes the Ju/wasi talking to a couple of lions, telling them firmly and politely that a certain fallen wildebeest was theirs and that the lions should leave. After listening, the lions left. (p.118) And how the Ju/wasi behaved if by chance they should come upon a lion in the wild: the person would take an oblique angle away from the lion and walk with purpose, keeping the lion in sight but not staring. Thomas discovered that a lion meeting people sometimes would do the same!
The third thing that Thomas does extraordinary well is to use her novelist's sense of description and IMAGINE how the cat is feeling.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Tresca VINE VOICE on December 17, 1996
Format: Paperback
I was never a cat lover. I was definitely a dog person, and I (like all former dog owners) think my dog Jingles was the best dog in the whole wide world. Now we have a cat named Maya. All the myths I ever had about cats were turned on on their ear. In a similar fashion, The Tribe of Tiger gives a powerful insight into these animals without being overly sweet. Very often books of this type become unreadable to non-cat owners who get sick from the sugary references to cats at their cutest. Instead, Thomas examines all manner of cats, from the plight of the African lions to the triumph of the house cat. I wasn't aware that cats had a social organization at all, but unlike dogs (who have a distinct order in the pack), cats treat one cat as leader, with the others all equal in a kind of spoked-wheel formation. When you find out just how important it is that a cat meet another cat's gaze (and the trials of a blind cat who was unable to do so), you will have a new respect for cats, and this book.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
When I first caught sight of this book it looked very enthralling. I am a huge lover of cats and of animals in general. However, I left somewhat disappointed.
It seemed to me that there was insufficient evidence to back up the numerous claims she makes, many of which seemed based on anctedotal evidence. I appreciate her not wanting to bog the book down, but I do think that more evidence was needed to back up many of her claims, particularly in the instances where she was more forceful about her claims. She could have done this by simply by providing more examples. I'm not saying most of them aren't valid claims, she just needed to provide more evidence.
Half of the book relates her family's experiences among African bushman in the 1950s and 1980s. In the the middle of the book I was uncertain whether I was reading a book on cats or on the culture of the African bushmen (much of which was very intriguing indeed, but it was just not what I wanted from this particular book.)
I loved her notion that cats have their own culture. However her book tried to awkwardly force the cat culture into the human cultural mould, as though the cat culture in and of itself was not valid unless directly paralleled to that of humans.
Also, as an animal lover, I did not like the episode in which she joined a researcher whose method it was to capture pumas for radio collaring by having his dogs tree them.
In the episode she recounts one of his dogs killing one of a young puma mother's kittens--not exactly what I wanted to read. After the kitten was killed the author came back later the SAME day with the researcher, who used a gentler dog to tree the remaining kittens as the mother paced about from afar. They were then safely fitted with radio collars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Smith-Peter on July 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The part of this book that really stands out to me is the section on Africa. Here she compares the old ways, where lions were part of a complex ecosystem that included the Bushmen, to the new ways, where the lions are treated like cattle in that they are highly controlled. One of the saddest parts was the story of the white farmer who drove away both the Bushmen and the big cats from his watering hole and the people and cats had to wander through the desert and it's likely that most died. When you read about fragmentation of environment and decline of populations it doesn't seem nearly as real as this part.

There are also many interesting observations about cats and their lives and culture. But for me the part on Africa was the most interesting and heartbreaking.
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