The Tiger: Book summary and reviews of The Tiger by John Vaillant

The Tiger

A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

by John Vaillant

The Tiger by John Vaillant X
The Tiger by John Vaillant
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Book Summary

It's December 1997, and a man-eating tiger is on the prowl outside a remote village in Russia's Far East. The tiger isn't just killing people, it’s annihilating them, and a team of men and their dogs must hunt it on foot through the forest in the brutal cold. As the trackers sift through the gruesome remains of the victims, they discover that these attacks aren’t random: the tiger is apparently engaged in a vendetta. Injured, starving, and extremely dangerous, the tiger must be found before it strikes again.

As he re-creates these extraordinary events, John Vaillant gives us an unforgettable portrait of this spectacularly beautiful and mysterious region. We meet the native tribes who for centuries have worshipped and lived alongside tigers, even sharing their kills with them. We witness the arrival of Russian settlers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, soldiers and hunters who greatly diminished the tiger populations. And we come to know their descendants, who, crushed by poverty, have turned to poaching and further upset the natural balance of the region.

This ancient, tenuous relationship between man and predator is at the very heart of this remarkable book. Throughout we encounter surprising theories of how humans and tigers may have evolved to coexist, how we may have developed as scavengers rather than hunters, and how early Homo sapiens may have fit seamlessly into the tiger’s ecosystem. Above all, we come to understand the endangered Siberian tiger, a highly intelligent super-predator that can grow to ten feet long, weigh more than six hundred pounds, and range daily over vast territories of forest and mountain.

Beautifully written and deeply informative, The Tiger circles around three main characters: Vladimir Markov, a poacher killed by the tiger; Yuri Trush, the lead tracker; and the tiger himself. It is an absolutely gripping tale of man and nature that leads inexorably to a final showdown in a clearing deep in the taiga.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. 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 to explain how the Amur tiger went from being worshipped to being poached." - Publishers Weekly

"The search for this killer feline serves as the narrative thrust for John Vaillant's fascinating exploration of the deteriorating relationship between humans and these menacing, now seriously threatened creatures...Whether read as an adventure story or as documentary about delicate ecosystems, The Tiger is a powerful book.

"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." - Annie Proulx
 
"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
 
"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, Blood and Thunder, and Hellhound On His Trail

This information about The Tiger was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Face

A history read
The story is in so much Russian history that it is lost. The book is full of historical fact and sidelines to the point it becomes enormously plodding to read. Too much filler! Boring.

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Author Information

John Vaillant Author Biography

John Vaillant was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has lived in Vancouver for the past thirteen years. He is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Outside, and Men's Journal, among others. Of particular interest to Vaillant are stories that explore collisions between human ambition and the natural world. His work in this and other fields has taken him to five continents and five oceans.

His first book, The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed (Norton, 2005), was a bestseller and won several awards, including the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction (Canada).

His second book, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (Knopf, 2010) was an international bestseller and has been ...

... Full Biography
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