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The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Aug 24 2010
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Quill & Quire
John Vaillant is a literary shaman. The mixture of fact, conjecture, and superstition he concocted for 2005’s The Golden Spruce was pure magic and earned him the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-fiction. That same magic pervades the Vancouver author’s new book. Like the previous work, The Tiger involves a mystical encounter between man and the natural world. Set in southeastern Siberia, the story pits a group of men against an astoundingly vengeful, cunning carnivore.
The Tiger reads like a chilling detective novel constantly flirting with the supernatural. The action unfolds over a few days in December 1997 but could just as easily be a spooky folk tale told around a campfire.
The remains of experienced outdoorsman and hunter Vladimir Markov are found near his shack in the Siberian wilderness. It is evident he has been eaten by a tiger. But tigers tend to kill people only when provoked: what had Markov done to enrage the beast? And why is the tiger continuing to attack other humans in the area? Officers from a state wildlife organization investigate the mystery, trying to track down the animal and calm the fears of superstitious villagers. To do so, they use both modern science and ancient folklore.
The story of the hunt for the murderous tiger is frequently interrupted by page after page of background on Siberia, its declining animal population, and the unwritten laws of the forest. This flood of information is interesting, but detracts from the flow of an otherwise spellbinding narrative. As well, a very preachy epilogue seems redundant. We know by this point that the Siberian tiger population should be safeguarded and don’t need this message hammered into our heads any further.
Despite its flaws, The Tiger is a feast of impressive research, cinematic prose, and chilling mysticism that will enthrall both hunters and tree-huggers. The shaman has worked his magic once again.
#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A Globe and Mail Best Book
“Remarkable. . . . A book that manages to be at once exciting, memorable — and perfectly, impeccably right. . . . Recounts with power and excitement the true story of a titanic confrontation. . . . [Vaillant] has told a tale of astonishing power and vigour.”
— Simon Winchester in The Globe and Mail
“Suspenseful and majestically narrated. . . . Vaillant has written a mighty elegy that leads readers into the lair of the tiger and into the heart of the Kremlin.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A savage banquet. . . . Riveting.”
— Annie Proulx in The Guardian
“A hair-raising tale. . . . Vaillant’s portrayal of the tiger as a creature capable of revenge is both terrifying and fascinating. . . . It is ultimately Vaillant’s superbly crafted story of a tiger and two men that keeps us glued to the page, from the introduction right through to the thrilling denouement.”
— The Gazette
“A compelling tragedy. . . . [Vaillant] introduces the reader to a rich cast of real-life characters and provides elegant insights into our relationship with nature.”
— Calgary Herald
“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.”
— The Washington Post
“A truly extraordinary read: dark, thrilling and utterly compelling, which conveys the terrible might of nature like no other book I’ve come across.”
— The Bookseller (UK)
"The Tiger is the sort of book I very much like and rarely find. . . . This is a book not only for adventure buffs, but for all of us interested in wildlife habitat preservation."
— Annie Proulx
"This elegant work of narrative non-fiction has it all - beauty, intrigue, a primeval locale, fully realized characters, and a conflict that speaks to the state of our world. Obsessively well-researched and artfully written, The Tiger takes us on a journey to the raw edge of civilization, to a world of vengeful cats and venal men, a world that, in Vaillant's brilliant telling, is simultaneously haunting and enchanting."
— Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers
"Magnificent, surely the best chronicle ever published of the wild Amur tigers in Russia's Far East. . . . To call this book a page-turner is an understatement. It's riveting."
— Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs
"This book must be read by everybody who is interested in the conservation of wildlife. It takes you to the Russian wilderness to meet face-to-face with the Siberian tiger."
— Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human
"The Tiger offers a richly textured, compelling story of Nature and Man at odds - and at risk - in Russia's Far East. Grounded in meticulous research and informed by extensive field work, the narrative graphically conveys the fragility of life in the unforgiving taiga, where a single misstep can turn hunter into quarry."
— John J. Stephan, author of The Russian Far East: A History
— George Schaller, Wildlife Conservation Society senior conservationist; NBA winner The Serengeti Lion
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Top Customer Reviews
The author keeps the true story intense, but departs from the main story a number of times for developing characters involved in it and in the process explains in detail the history, geography, economy, ecology, ethnicities and culture, predators and prey in the region, and of course the relationship between men and the beast. In fact, the authors goes into further details and educates the readers on different political eras of Russia, Sino-Soviet relations of the past and Sino-Russian relations as of now, animal behaviour, even predator ' prey relationships studied in Africa, anthropology, palaeontology, etc. and he does all of this so very beautifully never losing track of the original story of the man eating tiger. It is amazing to note how learned the author and how well researched this book is. The author brings the knowledge out from diversified subjects as they apply to this confrontation between men and tiger.
The book has many tragic events described graphically, but in the end it leaves hope in that the awareness is growing all over the world and that Amur Tigers may survive living in the wild.
I grew up reading very lively and graphic stories of man eating tigers of India written by Jim Corbett and many local Indian hunters. I remember many of those stories and am still able to recall hunters describing the man eating tiger's behaviour. This book either endorsed those viewpoints or expanded my knowledge on tiger behaviour especially after it becomes a man eater.
When I received my book from Amazon.Read more ›
It's more of an "experience" than merely a book.
Most recent customer reviews
It's an interesting read. I found it kind of long though, and after a bit I lost interest.Published 4 months ago by S.May
Excellent read. You will never think of Russia or tigers the same way again after you finish this novel. Read morePublished 5 months ago by AlisonB
A compelling and wonderfully crafted read and utterly fascinating insight into the consciousness and "umwelt" of this remarkable czar of the taiga.Published 5 months ago by Dr. Duncan M. Taylor
A story that needs to be told. Logging in Siberia is taking away the tiger's habitat. They are now endangered. Read morePublished 6 months ago by nancy
The hardcover version is superb! I really enjoyed this book! Perfect for a gift!Published 7 months ago by Patrick GT
Vaillant does an excellent job of weaving history, the social situation, and the environment into his story.Published 8 months ago by A. Telfer
It is beautifully written and tells a fascinating story about the people of this remote part of the world; and a lot about the
tigers who live there. Read more
One of the best books I have read. I read this book previously, borrowed from a family member. The synergy of dynamic style coupled with dramatic incidence and anthropology of... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Lisbeth Haddad