113 of 118 people found the following review helpful
A Lyrical, Insightful, and rather Exhaustive Analysis,
This review is from: The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is far more than just an animal-eats-man thriller like Alaska Bear Tales. It does have a rather small story of a man eating tiger terrorizing a community, but it balloons out, covering all the eddies of history, natural history, economics, and culture that moved the characters to this moment where their worlds collide.
The story could easily be covered in 160 words on page two of a newspaper as some AP wire from Russia. Or in a narrative book it would take maybe 20 pages or so pages. But here the author brings nearly every back story to light in an amazing parade and alignment of stars that borders on fate. The Soviets annexing Northern Manchuria, Defending it from China, bringing Russians to the far East, the crumbling of Soviet systems, the crippling impoverishment of the community, the open markets to the South, the Chinese appetite for tiger products... Everything lines up to bring this confrontation in a way too clear cut for fiction.
I will not say that this book is a slow read, because I had problems putting it down, but at times it was frustrating that the core story of the tiger never seemed to move closer. It reads like a local history text, a biographic series of many of the main characters and a natural history account of tigers all blended together. I don't think I have ever come away from a book feeling like I knew the context of events better. The image created of post Perestroika Russia alone is worth the price of the book.
However, I can see some people being turned off by all the detours and side streets the book takes. This is not a straight narrative. By the time I knew the end was near, I felt almost like the hunters tracking the tiger, just willing the confrontation to come. And the climax was worth it. The author uses cinematic timing and fated suspense right up to the last moment.
I highly recommend it. Not as a riveting storyline, but much more - a riveting, all encompassing history. Occasionally the auther went a little over the top with his description of tigers, but I can never look at a tiger in a zoo the same way again.