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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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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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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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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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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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on January 21, 2016
As a hunter I greatly enjoy the MeatEater television show. Steven's book includes more of what I like, his thoughtful, intellectual style of communicating. This book is mainly autobiographical. I paused to re-read many of the passages for their almost poetic imagery. Overall the subject matter may be a bit down and dirty for non-hunters but should elicit nods of recognition from readers with similar experiences. The last chapter should have been the first IMO, for the mood it set.
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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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on October 20, 2015
If I could, I would give this book a 10 out of 5. Steve Rinella has a way of capturing the read like no other author I have ever read. Any and every book he releases I will buy. If you are hunter, his writing makes you feel like you are on the hunt. Also, he give you insight and history about the animals. Definitely a good book and would make a great gift for any hunter. If you are buying for a hunter and a cook, you should check out his book, "The Scavengers Guide to Haute Cuisine." It is by far the best book.
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on May 1, 2015
if you believe in the eat what you kill movement or are simply someone who likes to hunt and fish because you enjoy it for what it is (not just because its a new trendyish movement) then you'll probably enjoy this book. As someome who grew up middle class and rather wild on the edges of city/country living, I could connect with his upbringing. His evolution as a hunter is interesting to me, though I haven't followed that path. I still get most of our meats from the grocery store, but I'll admit this read made me think about that. Also, I get the sense Rinella is left of center politically so it's nice to have a hunting/shooting voice on that side for a change. Hunting won't survive if it remains a passion of only one type. Hope to see more women, girls, minorities, and non-conservatives pick it up. Or at least understand it better.
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on December 7, 2013
This book really is everything this and others reviews say it is. What a joy to read! I've recently gotten interested in hunting and have been "on the hunt" (hah!) for books that share hunting wisdom and knowledge. This book outlines one man's life-long story of why he hunts, how he hunts, where he hunts, and how awesome (or in some cases bad) the eatin' is. Rinella does a fantastic job of sharing entertaining stories about his experiences, good and bad, while imparting much appreciated knowledge, wisdom and secrets about his methods. I loved how honest and down to earth Rinella was. It felt like sitting down, talking about life stuff, with an old friend. Other books I've read on the subject are oftentimes fluff pieces, with stories of hunting wildabeast and elephants in Africa, that read like a "fishing story" if ya know what I mean. Not this book. It was just plain honest and you could tell this guy just wants to share his passion for hunting with the whole world and provide information that will help us to succeed too. Thank you, Mr. Rinella, for this wonderful book!
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