Customer Reviews: The Tracker: The Story of Tom Brown, Jr.
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on June 23, 2003
Having read some of the earlier reviews I thought that it might be enlightening to provide a little bit of background for "The Tracker" and its author, Tom Brown, Jr.
I have hunted and fished and loved the outdoors all of my life. When I first read "The Tracker" I was immediately fascinated with the thought that there still might be a master tracker and survivalist somewhere in the world and that if even 50% of "The Tracker" was true, I had to find this guy!!! First of all, though, I searched out and read everything I could by Tom Brown and began to realize just how little I knew about the "real" world. I finally contacted the publisher of "The Tracker" and was directed to a P.O. Box number in New Jersey. I wrote to Tom about the possibility of learning from him and was rewarded by being informed that he operated an outdoors school. I began to attend classes there and judged for myself if Tom was the person he claimed. My conclusion is-- that he can do everything he claims (and I have seen him do some stuff that just leaves you shaking your head). Countless newspaper stories in New Jersey and elsewhere documenting his ability to find lost people (some of whom didn't necessarily want to be found) attest to his tracking ability. His favorite phrase seems to be, "Prove me wrong!". He is confident of his ability and genuinely wants you to be able to do the same things he does. Don't let the fact that our lives are pretty much consumed by the day to day struggle to survive blind you to the fact that there is a fantastic world out there and try to remember that you once knew about it when you were young and your mind was open. "The Tracker" is a great read that you can take as fiction OR fact and enjoy equally!! Be careful, though, because it may have the same effect as the little pill in "The Matrix" and you may "wake up". In any case, it will at least remind you of how life used to be when you were young and everything was fascinating!!!
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on December 22, 2004
As other reviewers have noted, a rational mind will naturally wonder if there isn't some amount of exaggeration going on in Tom Brown's (admittedly wonderful) books. During the week-long course that I took from him, there were just a few moments during field work when his claim that, for example, a "female juvenile mountain lion with a full bladder" had made those faint compressions in the ground debris challenged my belief system. And his.. uhm.. somewhat loudmouth persona would be consistent with a bit of literary license. There are also some claims on the internet that there was no actual "Grandfather" or "Rick" per se, but who knows and frankly who cares. His technical information is accurate (tracking, shelter, etc.), his story is moving, I have real appreciation for Tom Brown and the work he does, and found his warmth, humor, energy and dedication very irresistable.

You will notice that Carlos Castaneda, Dan Millman (Way of the Peaceful Warrior), Marlo Morgan (Mutant Msg Down Under) and others have likewise been accused of using various amounts of fiction in their "factual" books, but I found their books instructional and inspirational also.

So, armed with that caveat, I would say go buy this book. I highly recommend it.
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on August 17, 2000
I actually read this book almost a year after taking Tom's Standard Class at his Tracking, Nature, and Wilderness Survival School. Because of this, I noticed subtle things, written on a level that would pique a reader's interest in the wilderness, but would confirm other things to anyone who has learned under Brown or one of his students.
If there is one thing the book emphasizes, it is that nature need not be mysterious, dangerous, or foreboding. Once a person works in harmony with nature, all the fear vanishes, and the only mystery is discovering new and exciting things that one had previously missed. Many resources exist outside of Brown's school, many of which can be found here on Amazon, and while self-education can be long and arduous, you will find no better education than learning about nature.
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on August 13, 2001
There are a few books that I have encountered in my years - books that have not only changed me for their reading them, but changed the very way that I look at the world. The Tracker, by Tom Brown is one of these.
The Tracker chronicles the boyhood and amazing exploits in early life of Tom Brown-outdoorsman, conservationist, environmental activist and `tracker' in the tradition of Apache Scouts of the American southwest. A tradition and way of life taught to him by his friend and adopted Apache Grandfather Stalking Wolf.
From their first meeting when Tom was seven years old a relationship and mentoring grew and forever altered an Irish-American boy growing up in the Pine Barrens area of southeast New Jersey. Tom gains training that will forever alter the way he looks at and relates to the world both physically and spiritually.
Tom Brown was always a bit different in his boyhood interests. While other New Jersey boys in the 1960s were eager to bicycle to vacant lots for baseball or touch football - Tom would lie on his stomach in his backyard for hours watching the coming and going of insects, or closely study the natural wonder locked in a wildflower's structure. His collection of animal skulls and other natural curios brought to `show and tell' shocked his school teachers.
He felt alone and misunderstood completely until a chance meeting with Rick, a boy with similar interests that would make him Tom's best friend, cohort, and blood brother for life. Even more fantastic would be the relationship Tom would discover with Rick's 80-some year old Apache Grandfather Stalking Wolf. Grandfather, as both boys called him, would become their "coyote teacher" in the ways of the woods, the ways of the Scout-becoming one with the woods and even greater, the mystery of "the spirit that moves in all things".
From wild dog encounters, to playing in the midst of Army war games, the adventures these two boys encounter in their journey defies belief. Incredible true adventures from stalking and touching wild deer to boldly defending the New Jersey wilderness from those who would abuse her beauty. To tell more would rob you of the great thrill of reading this first book by Tom Brown. An excellent choice for anyone to read, especially, ESPECIALLY young adults.
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on February 21, 2005
I was so captivated by this book shortly after it first came out that I attended the Tracker School in 1979. All of us wanted to believe it was possible to lead a charmed life like the Tom Brown Jr. legend. Myself and a number of others grew a little older and wiser after having met Brown in person. I gave the book away after I came home. I believe most of it is fiction.

Brown made so many far fetched and fantastic claims about himself that I would have to characterize him as a megalomaniac. Brown claimed that he went through the Sun Dance ritual, a horrific ordeal that would leave large ugly scars on one's chest. Brown often went around shirtless but I don't remember seeing any scars. This was only one of a number of unbelievable stories we heard.

Brown also displayed a vindictive attitude toward people he didn't like. Brown miraculously found an empty whiskey bottle under the straw where a person who left early had slept. He also laughed about people he tracked at night and caught them engaged in embarrassing acts. This should tell you something about the guy.

Truth matters. We attended the school because we believed The Tracker was a true story. The money I paid into the Tom Brown Jr. legend was alot for a guy going to school and working two jobs. But I have to admit, Tom Brown Jr. taught me a valuable lesson in life. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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on December 8, 2010
I was born in Southern New Jersey in the mid-1950's. Like many youths in that area, I spent alot of time outdoors. I had never heard of Tom Brown Jr until my sister told me about him. By that time, I was in my mid-forties and living out west.

When I first started reading the book, I thought it was fantastic. It reminded me so much of my youth. The woods, the swamps, the quickmud - it was all true. But by the end of the book I was disillusioned. The bragging and bravado were too much and the story of beating up some hunters just ridiculous.

Those not familiar with New Jersey of that time period should know that there were expanses of untended pine barrens and deciduous forests. The land, however, was all owned by someone (where not state land). Mr. Brown was guilty (as I was) of tresspassing. He was also guilty of poaching. As a legitimate hunter, I take offense to some of his statements.

I admit that I went on to read many other of his books. They each went deeper and deeper into woo-woo land. Eventually, I couldn't stomach them anymore. My own research into his persona revealed a chain-smoking bully type who drives a Hummer. I have never attended any of his classes.

I tend to believe that Stalking Wolf (and Rick) were invented in order to spice up his stories and to justify his actions. Is all this a big con for fame and profit?

There are many good people in New Jersey. There are also some of the worst. If you choose to read this book then take away some facts and stories. Let the book inspire you. But be cautious not to slip into the grips of this craziness. Trust yourself. Find some good people to head out into the wilderness with. Those that are honest, decent and experienced.
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on December 7, 2000
I read this book only a few years ago, but it and the author have left a permanent mark on me for the inspiration and wisdom that I found. I followed the first book, by reading all of his other life story books. The stories of Tom and the teachings of Grandfather have shown me knowledge which goes beyond religions, which goes beyond society, and which answers many of the timeless questions that I have always asked. Though "The Tracker" is the first book of his that must be read, the stories within "Grandfather" and the wisdom offered in "Awakening Spirits" have given me glimpses into the oneness of all things and has led me to a new respect for all things, big and small, beautiful and not. For all things are truly part of one thing. I have recently found that Tom offers classes to teach this timeless knowledge of the world and our place in it. One of my goals of next year is to take his first introductory class and then to follow that with his healing classes. I cannot imagine a finer endeavor to plan for next year.
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on November 14, 2006
There are many people who think Tom Brown is a fraud. There are many people who worship him as almost a god. If you have preconceived notions about Tom Brown, then you may not want to pick up this book. As other reviews have stated, this book tells the childhood story of Tom Brown who learned tracking and love and respect for nature from a Native American named Stalking Wolf. You can pick up some techniques from this book. But, I think the book is largely a vivid, dramatically told story in which we follow Tom Brown through his journey. I don't care how much of it may or may not be made up. The book is well written. It's an easy read. It does a good job of placing you in these wonderful situations in nature. It is very inspiring in terms of wanting to protect the sanctitiy of nature and in terms of relaying the discipline needed to learn all you can about any subject be it nature or otherwise. I recommend the book highly.
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The Tracker changed my life! Tom Brown's story helped me understand my own spiritual awakening in nature. I knew nature and spirituality were connected but did not know how to talk about it. Tom's teaching about Great Spirit and how everything is sacred and interconnected has given me the words and the voice to understand and share my experiences.
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on September 5, 1999
I have read this book no less than five times in the past ten years. My father gave me a copy that my brother wouldn't take the time to read and, when I first looked at it, I was skeptical. I thought that I knew the Pine Barrens first hand having grown up in the same area and at the same time as Tom Brown. Reading the book was a humbling experience for me. I had never even seen the surface of what the Pine Barrens (an nature in general) had to offer. He makes believable the unbelievable. I have since purchased, read and re-read everything I can find by Tom Brown and, though I no longer live near the Pine Barrens, have developed a deeper appreciation of the natural world and my place in it. One last amazing thing about the book -- he is writing about New Jersey!
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