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The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (Vintage Departures) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 362 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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“A masterpiece of reconstructed reportage . . . What elevates The Tiger from adventure yarn to nonfiction classic is Vaillant’s mastery of language. Every now and then he drops in a paragraph-length essay that stands alone like a polished gem. His riff on the “unintended courtesy” of wildlife paths in snow is the kind of insight Terry Tempest Williams might weave an entire book around.”
“The Tiger is the sort of book I very much like and rarely find. Humans are hard-wired to fear tigers, so this book will attract intense interest. In addition to tiger lore and scalding adventure, Vaillant shows us Russia’s far east and its inhabitants, their sometimes desperate lives interwoven with the economics of poaching and the politics of wildlife conservation. I was startled to learn about the zapovedniks and Russia’s primary place in global conservation. This is a book not only for adventure buffs, but for all of us interested in wildlife habitat preservation.”
“If ever a nonfiction author has used the techniques of fiction any better to recount a real-life narrative, it is difficult to imagine who that author would be . . . Think of Vaillant as a younger version of John McPhee, but on steroids.”
—The Seattle Times
“A remarkable and thoughtful account of a distant place where man and animal meet with fatal consequences.”
—Richmond Times Dispatch
“[A] riveting story . . . Vaillant’s book teaches a lesson that humankind desperately needs to remember: When you murder a tiger, you not only kill a strong and beautiful beast, you extinguish a passionate soul.”
“By all means read Vaillant’s magnificent book . . . [The Tiger] offers readers a shiver-inducing portrait of a predat...
Christopher McDougall Reviews The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival
Christopher McDougall is the author of national bestseller Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen. He is a former war correspondent for the Associated Pressand a three-time National Magazine Award finalist. He's written for magazines ranging from Esquire and The New York Times Magazine to Outside and Men’s Health. He does his own running among the Amish farms around his home in rural Pennsylvania. Read his review of The Tiger:
A few years ago, I interviewed a Delaware state trooper named Butch LeFebvre who’d been assigned to investigate rumors that a mountain lion was roaming the outskirts of Wilmington. It was silly, of course--big cats had been wiped out on the East Coast more than a century ago. But just to be safe, LeFebvre strapped on night-vision goggles, loaded a rifle with a tranquilizer dart, and set off into the woods behind the Du Pont Country Club. By 3 A.M, he’d spotted nothing, so he headed back to his truck. The next evening, he returned to the same spot for another look--and found paw tracks following his footprints all the way back to where he’d parked. LeFebvre was an experienced hunter, but he learned something that night: one killer out there was doing a great job of watching and thinking and learning, and it wasn’t him.
To this day, the Wilmington lion has never attacked or even emerged from the suburban shadows. Not so lucky, however, is the Siberian village in John Vaillant’s chilling The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival. In 1997, deep in the remote Russian backcountry, a gigantic Amur tiger begins acting like the only thing more savage than a wild animal--us. It doesn’t just attack villagers; it hunts them, picking its targets like a hitman with a contract, at one point even dragging a mattress out of a shack so it can lie comfortably in wait until the woodsman returns home. A few days later, the woodsman’s horrified friends discover remains “so small and so few they could have fit in a shirt pocket.”
Vaillant is as masterful with science as he is with suspense. We feel what it’s like to be in a tiny settlement cut off from the rest of the world, at the mercy of a beast so swift that it can’t be seen until its mouth bites down on your face. Tigers, Vaillant explains, are nature’s last word in mammalian weapons design. Big as three NFL linebackers bundled into one, armed with claws longer than fingers and jaws rated on a strength-scale used for dinosaurs, tigers are built like missiles and can out-swim, out-climb, out-fox and out-run just about anything that breathes. That’s the bad news; the worse news is, they’re also armed with memory and invisibility. “I have seen all the other animals,” one poacher says, “but I have never seen a tiger--not once.”
What enthralled me as much as the deadly cat-and-man game at the center of The Tiger are the side-stories that inform it. Vaillant introduces us to characters like Jakob von Uexkull, a Victorian-era baron-turned-physiologist who specialized in umwelt: the lost art of immersing yourself in another creature’s psyche. You crouch to the height of the animal you’re seeking, learning to see the world through its eyes, inhale scents through its nostrils, feel cool earth and crushed leaves beneath its padded paws. There are hunters in Siberia, Vaillant tells us, who can sniff the woods and identify animals by smell. These maestros believe killing a tiger without cause is as vile as murder, and such a violation of natural order that calamity is destined to follow. They feel such kinship with the big cats that they’ll even share their meals by leaving hunks of meat in the woods, convinced the tigers will re-pay them in kind with a deer haunch when times are lean. They see themselves as blood brothers of the Amurs--but as Vaillant shows us, no one fights more fiercely than relatives.
(Photo © Luis Escobar)
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publication Date : August 24, 2010
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Vintage (August 24, 2010)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B003F3PKY0
- File Size : 1931 KB
- Print Length : 362 pages
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #40,656 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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By the end of this book you will support efforts to save the Amir tiger from extinction. The welfare of the tiger is a significant indication of the health of the society which surrounds him.
The story eventually kicks in to high gear when Moscow gives the greenlight to hunt down the man-eating tiger. In these parts of the book it recalls the frenzied mob of amateur fishermen going after the shark in Jaws. The climactic confrontation between the tiger and the protagonist of the book is nothing short of cinematic. It's some exciting stuff.
Incidentally, Hollywood may be getting closer to translating this book to the screen. Brad Pitt had been attached to star with Darren Aronofsky directing many years ago. They now have a new director attached (Michaël R. Roskam - The Drop). I hope they do the book justice.
Top reviews from other countries
Provides excellent backstory into hunting within the Primorye region in which the book is set, an edge of the known world post communist Pick n mix of Taiga jungle boreal. A "no joke! It really was this bad" setting easily sympathised with.
Thing is theres about 1/3 the book actually regarding the Tiger question. 2/3 are back story, history, anthropology and human animal behaviour.
My problem? Well, there isn't one! I was just curious as to how the book sells itself as a tiger thriller, but in-between long periods of interesting Tiger info I often forgot or drifted away from the Tiger at hand.
Everything in the book is interesting. In fact it's surprising what you do read about in this book. One story leads into another fascinating one, then when you wind your head out of that one "anyways, back to our Tiger..."
Padded out but in a palatable way.
This book is one of those books..simply superb...tons of atmosphere and factual information on Russia and the Siberian Tiger. A real life tale about a Siberian tiger with a grudge... will say no more. Just read it and put the lights down low !
I have read so many books in my 53 years on earth but this one was the best I ever read.
It was almost impossible to put it away and yet sometimes I had to stop reading and digest what I just read.
Never have I learnt so much about Russia, its people, nature and politics. All spun around a true story about a tiger.
You were invited to be your own investigator and detective while absorbing so may facts and puzzle pieces.
I love tigers with all my heart but now I can see both sides of the problem and I will be forever grateful for this insight.
Despite the fact that I own a kindle version, I decided to treat myself with a hardcopy as well.
Some readers may be frustrated that the story is not pure adventure but takes several detours through the history of the land in which it is set. I found those detours fascinating and enriching though - whether they were about the culture, ancient and modern, of the remote Primorye region, or about the dark social effects of pre- and post-perestroika culture in the area, or about the various characters: principled, unprincipled, hard-working, dedicated or feral who populate the book.
The real and symbolic powers of the siberian tiger are illuminated, as is much else in the book, and I never found the background dull or distracting. Behind it all was the intense and gripping tiger-pursuit which culminates in a dramatic and shocking way.
At the end, the decline in tiger numbers - bringing these spellbinding animals to the verge of extinction - is starkly set out, all the more stark after reading about the power and beauty of the persecuted beast.
A minor irritation in the kindle edition is that many words - not at the ends of lines - are hyphenated (interest-ing, poss-ible etc) which, I suppose, is some kind of scanning problem. You get used to that, but it is a surely avoidable annoyance, which would not happen in a printed book.
I learnt so much from "The Tiger": the intelligence and subtleties of the way the creatures hunt - even to the extent of singling out particular human individuals seen as enemies and stalking them patiently down; the threats to their existence caused by poaching tiger "products" for the lucrative Chinese market; the greed of those who control logging and destruction of the taiga/tiger forests; the hardships of the impoverished people who share the tiger's world.
This book helps to show Siberian tiger as the spirit and symbol of wilderness in its shrinking world. A spirit that - if quenched - would make our world a paler and deader place.