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Man-Eaters of Kumaon
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2004
After reading this book I have so much respect for Jim Corbett. He truly was a gentleman and a big-hearted at that. He had so much respect for the native people he lived with. Throughout his stories he gives credits for others and never to himself. Although he hunted all alone and on foot, he never claimed himself to be the "Greate white hunter". The stories are so interesting, feels like you are with him all the time. He has even inspired me thru this book. Its worth LOT more than its price. He was such a nice gentleman, he always cared for the victims of man-eaters. Time and again he shows his concerns. He makes sure he thanks them. He talks about their courage but never once writes about his courage. He is one big-hearted gentleman just like his tigers.
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on May 10, 2013
I read tis book when it first was published. I was 11 years old at the time, and these true exploits of Jim Corbett scared the hell out of me! So, it was with some trepidation that I decided to reread the book now I'm in my late seventies. I have found before that rereading books that left a major inpression on me, in my youth, often leaves me wondering what all the fuss was about.

This book retained its ability to scare the hell out of me. I thought, as a child, that I probably wouldn't be able to match Corbett's courage when I grew up. Now I know I was right! I am no coward, but some of the situations that Corbett puts himself into during the course of hunting down man-eating tigers are beyond rational belief.

He writes very well, and you'll find yourself with him in the Jungle, with night closing in, waiting for a man-eater to arrive, but not being too sure which direction it'll be coming from! And, as he's already given very graphic descriptions of the tiger's last kill, the hair on the back of your neck will be standing on end. I hope you make it!
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on April 16, 2004
I got this book under very odd circumstances my friend had a box full of old books and offered me a copy of Jim Corbett's wonderful novel. I toke it home and never touched it for over 2 years until my father found it my room and to both his and my surprised exclaimed this was his favourite novel when he was young. I read the book with no idiea or knowledge of hunting infact iam mainly against hunting espcially endangered species such as tigers. That night i was completely swept away in the land of India the novel is so well detailed and so descriptive you feel you are there with Corbett in the indian jungle. Corbett was a gentleman and a fantastic hunter though he was no arrogant man who relished in bloodshed. He respected these creatures and merely killed when no alternative was available and the animals had already become maneaters. The suspense is unnerving when you read that the tiger is somewhere close at hand and Corbett is sat in the pitch dark listening for his prey and you almost want to shout at Jim to look out! The charm of these books is the pure adventure and world the author creates and somehow knowing it's all true gives it even more thrills. Read this book it is a wonderful novel and each story has it's appeal this man was a noble gentleman who weaves his stories into something charming and exciting! No need to be a hunting fan to enjoy this great book simply have a love for adventure and different cultures for Corbett pays as much attention to the lands and people as his own ventures!
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on March 13, 2004
This is the most popular of Jim Corbett's books and has fascinating real life stories of the man-eating tigers, in the foothill of the Himalayas in northern India, and Jim Corbett's encounters with them. The basic theme of most of the stories is the same: a tiger or a tigress turns man-eater and kills a number of people, completely terrorizing the entire population in the surrounding villages; Jim Corbett is called upon to track and kill the man-eater(s), which he does every time using his amazing knowledge of the Jungle and the animals there in; and his unbelievable courage and determination.
Jim Corbett's knowledge of the jungle was surpassed only by his compassion for the people he was trying to save, and the animal he was trying to hunt. In the Author's notes, he famously describes the tiger as "a large hearted gentleman with boundless courage", and warns against the indiscriminate hunting of tigers, which if not controlled would eventually deprive India of the finest of her fauna. His skills as a writer were no less admirable, as evident in this book where he describes his encounters with the man-eating tigers in the wild in blood-curdling details. Overall a very enjoyable book and highly recommended.
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on October 18, 2002
Like many other reviewers, I read "Man-Eaters of Kumaon" many years ago, in junior high school (1951) to be exact. Corbett's book is truly unique in that it is not only a story of high adventure, hunting man-eating tigers in northern India, but it also places the reader in an era that is little-understood today: post-Victorian colonial India.
Just as fascinating as the tracking and killing of the tigers are Corbett's descriptions of the devastation of the poor Indian hill people wrought by tigers who preyed upon them. It is clear that he had respect for the helpless villagers who desperately sought his help as well as for the tigers which he was forced to kill. His writing also expresses a profound love for India.
One correction I must point out is that the hunts in this book took place in the northern hill country and forests, not in the "jungle." Jim Corbett was a keen observer of his surroundings, its wildlife, and its people. It is a window into an era that is now gone.
Hunting tigers is a dangerous game-- extremely so for man-eating tigers which have no fear of man. Alone, on foot, and armed with a double "express" rifle with only iron sights (no telescopic sights here!), the odds are stacked in favor of the tiger. To hunt a tiger once is to place one's self in grave danger but to do it again and again and again....? That takes incredible courage.
If you have never read this book, try it. It gives you a better look at hunting tigers than the old Stewart Granger movie "Harry Black and the Tiger."
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This is not a story of a bloodthirsty hunting fiend frenzied with the unquenchable lust to pull the trigger and spread carnage. Jim Corbett was a true hunter, sportsman and role model. He was commissioned by the government of India to go and kill man eating tigers and leopards that were running havoc amount the inhabitants of the small villages in remote jungles. Some of these beasts had over 100 recorded human kills. When Mr. Corbett was in the jungle hunting them, these man-eaters were often also hunting him. This was a day when rifles were very limited in their killing power, unlike the sophisticated weapons of today.
Man-eaters of Kumaon contains such spine tingling suspense as a time that the author spent the night in a tree by himself well within reach of the man-eater he was tracking. Other times he would make the final approach of a tiger alone with no help or support. Most of his kills were at less than 50 yards. Some were less than 50 feet!
These stories seemed so spectacular when I first read them I chalked it up to a man with an over active imagination. I started researching Mr. Corbett and reading any articles that I could find on him. To my surprise I found quite the opposite to be the fact. People that knew him well and went with him in the jungles all say that he toned the stories down because he thought if he told the whole truth no one would believe him!!
After I read the book, my wife who does not even hunt consumed it in a single day (which means the house turned into a mess). As soon as she finished, my 15-year-old son started on it and finished it one day later. This is a true classic about a true hero, the kind of which we are sadly lacking in today's world.
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on March 8, 2001
Col.Jim Corbett is the finest hunter of man-eating tigers and leopards to have ever lived. He is an immortal legend in India, where majority of his exploits are centered. The hill-folk whom he relieved of man-eaters like the Champawat tiger, which killed more than 400 people and the man-eating leopard of Rudraprayag, which killed around 125 people and to this date, is the most notorious leopard to have ever walked the face of this earth, literally worshipped him. Though his books were written almost 80 years ago, they still continue to enthrall and fascinate readers all around the world. Col.Corbett never killed, unless absolutely necessary, and in every case, he justifies his killing the animal. Though one feels that his killing the tiger known as the Bachelor of Powalgarh, one of the largest tigers ever, just for the sake of sport, was totally unwanted & unnecessary. His books take you smack into the middle of the Indian jungles, and his books make up for a truly wonderful and breathtaking reading experience. A must buy for all adventure lovers, and if you're not, you still need to have this. Its not a book to be missed at any cost!!!
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on January 28, 2001
I first read this book when I was a child, and I loved it. I thought it was long out of print, and when I saw it was still available I bought a new copy and re-read it again. Like a good wine, it got better with time. This and the story of Shackleton's 'Endurance' expedition in 1914 have to be the most exciting adventure stories I have ever read - I sat up untill the early hours to re-read it again in one sitting. The writing is very descriptive and clear and the tension is unbeatable - Corbett literally came face-to-face with man-eating leopards and tigers, and by his reckoning the chances of surviving an encounter were about one in a hundred. The man must have had nerves of steel to run risks like that for thirty years.
Corbett was a hero's heroe and he was a skilled observer and writer as well - he had great knowledge of the country and the animals he tracked and he knew how to record the information and present it so that the uninitiated can understand what is going on.
A big attraction to me also for Corbett's writing is his humility and modesty about his accomplishments, there is not a hint of boastfullness. He writes about tracking a man-eating tiger that is stalking him as if the job is no more risky than going to a convenience store for a carton of milk. As a character, Jim Corbett has to be at the very top of the tree.
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on May 22, 1998
I had read and heard of ahimsa (loosely translated as non-violence) as preached and practised by Gandhi. I am also familiar with the much wider concept of ahimsa one finds in Hindu philosophy : a state of mind where you cease to differentiate your self from any other being. I had also read about yogis and mystics who had actually reached such a state of mind. Vedanta textbooks say that knowledge (of the ultimate reality) drives away fear. But in all these readings I was only vaguely aware of the inherent link between ahimsa and fearlessness until I chanced upon "Man-Eaters of Kumaon". How does Corbett overcome fear? Is it just a matter of cold reason? Is it just his intimate knowledge of the terrain, the knowledge of the ways of man eaters, his ability to understand and imitate the language of most of the animals that were to be found in Kumaon ? As a ten year old boy he had his first trophy when he first wounded and then stalked and finished off a full grown leopard. As a middle aged man, during an epidemic outbreak of cholera in Mokamah, where he worked as a railway contractor, he nursed back to life a cholera victim left abandoned by fellow travellers. His deep sympathy and love for those simple folk among whom he lived and worked is inseparable from the courage he showed when called upon to stand by them; one feeds on the other. These Kumaon stories are replete with instances where the victim's own folk had panicked on seeing (or even sensing) a man-eater , leaving the poor victim alone. In one instance a villager simply shut his door when he received no reply from his wife who had, a little while earlier, stepped out of her hut to relieve herself. Ironically enough most of the victims of the Kumaon "man-eaters" happened to be women. This should not come as a surprise because most of the work in fields or firewood collecting is done by the women. It is significant that the only instance of courage in the face of danger is due to a young woman who ran, shouting and brandishing her sickle, after! the tiger which was carrying off her sister. When the predator turned its attention on its pursuer she managed to run back to safety, but the shock left her completely speechless for about a year. About a year later Corbett managed to kill the tiger and on returning with the kill laid it first at her door step; when she ran out to inform the rest of the villagers she was seen shouting at the top of her voice! Whole villages were abandoned when a man eater was reported in the area; people feared to step beyond their courtyard even to relieve themselves so that these villages soon turned filthy and unhygenic. Against this backdrop of terror, which paralysed the life of villages for miles around, Corbett realized the need to instill courage in the hearts of men and help them get back to normal life; often he would stand guard as the villagers harvested their fields or collected water from nearby streams. The next step is to track down the man-eater and this requires immense hard work - not just skill and courage - and could take months. What sustains a shikari in such circumstances ? Surely not the prize money; one of the preconditions that he sets before the Government is that the prize money be withdrawn. Reading these stories one cannot help feeling that it is something much more than the mere thrill and adventure in the act involved, that motivates Corbett. And finally the act of killing and the words that describe it never betray a sense of ill will or hatred towards the prey; what else could be ahimsa even in the act of killing itself. Such a state of mind is the mind of a yogi - at once fearless and non violent.
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on March 27, 1998
Jim Corbett was, and remains, renowned as the outstanding white hunter of Northern India in the early part of this century. The irony is that he sought, and through his legacy of the Corbett National Park still seeks, to preserve the wildlife and the great cats of India. However his responsibilities towards the populations of those areas over which he had authority obliged him frequently to undertake hazardous pursuits of both tigers and leopards which were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of unfortunate locals. The stories are remarkable as much for the understated idiom of the author who makes little of the fact that he is wandering about the jungle, largely by himself and as often stalked as stalking, in pursuit of notorious man-eating big cats. But he is also deeply sympathetic towards his victims, which were often inspired to man-eating by injury or disablement, while having an almost paternalistic attitude towards his companions. To read Corbett is to learn of the twin dichotomies of the hunter/conservationist and the benevolent imperialist.
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