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Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter (edition 2012)

by Steven Rinella

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4516256,992 (3.62)5
Member:alsvidur
Title:Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter
Authors:Steven Rinella
Info:Spiegel & Grau (2012), Paperback, 232 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:animals, hunting, conservation, Early Reviewers, wilderness

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Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter by Steven Rinella

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I read half of this book, and I still intend to finish it someday. I really enjoyed the parts I read though – Rinella is an excellent storyteller, and I learned a lot. I stopped because it got a bit too visceral to be reading the whole book in one go, not because of any flaw in the book.
  kgodey | Sep 12, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Before reading this book, I had never heard of Steven Rinella, so I feel that I did not have any preconceived notions of him as an author or a hunter. I found him to be an excellent writer and storyteller , and I often read parts out loud to the family to share in the humor of some of his stories. I think he gave the reader a fair assessment of his own motivations and background for being a hunter, although he does little to address the debates about ethical treatment of animals (which I am not certain this book would actually be the place to discuss them to begin with). I did find myself rather put off by the chapters about trophy-hunting Dall Sheep and Cougar ("just to see what it tasted like"), but I am personally opposed to trophy hunting as it is and I did appreciate his honesty in these hunting stories. I find his writing style to be an easy read, and I might even pick up another book of his in the future. ( )
  bluelotus28 | Aug 24, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Hunting has become a sensitive topic throughout the United States - especially hunting with guns. Why would a person feel the need to go outside and kill an animal with a gun, bow, or trap when they can go to the store and get any meat they want much more easily? Steven Rinella tries to answer "why [he] hunts, who [he is] as a hunter, and what hunting means to [him]" in his book Meat Eater. One of his primary arguments is who we have descended from - hunters and, especially in America, frontiersman. Rinella claims that "to abhor hunting is to hate the place from which you came, which is akin to hating yourself in some distant, abstract way." Throughout the book he argues the differences between hunters and agriculturalists, and how humans have traded the activity of hunting for more worthless activities such as golf. Some of his biggest arguments are how a hunter is able to feel and understand the essence of an animal; to understand what an animal's life is worth, more-so than anyone else; to feel an intimacy to the animals he is willing to trade his life for; how the risks of hunting makes the hunter feel more alive than he otherwise would feel; and how the hunter invariably thanks the animal for what it has provided the hunter.

These arguments and messages are sprinkled throughout the book in anecdotal form. To say he is able to write entertaining stories is an understatement; Rinella is a gifted writer able to grasp the reader with his stories and words. At the end of each story arc/chapter, Meat Eater offers a unique addition: tasting notes, in which Rinella explains what animals taste like, how to prepare them, and how best to, or interesting ways to, serve each animal. Unfortunately, the idea is fantastic but the execution is lacking - the main problem is how the notes relate to the stories. The second chapter contains stories about hunting squirrel as a boy, and the tasting note is about squirrels - interesting enough to pique the interest of even a non-hunter. However, from then on the tasting notes don't always match the animals in the chapter. For example, chapter seven is about catch-and-release fishing and some adventures he had with a friend. They hitch-hiked to Mexico and camped on a beach to catch-and-release one of the most well-known and notorious sport fishes. At the end, he was hungry and came to an epiphany to cook this bonefish, but the tasting note on the next page detailed salmon. Unfortunately he draws the reader into a specific type of animal, but doesn't always take advantage of that interest to explain the nuances of that animal's unique taste.

Unfortunately, Rinella doesn't exactly answer the questions pervading his book - the why-to, at least - in a convincing enough manner to ease the sensitivity of hunting. What's left, though, are some interesting hunting stories and tips for hunting, cooking and general camping. ( )
  deslni01 | Jan 22, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Rinella uses a conversational style to describe his memories hunting and fishing. While the simplistic style could use a bit of dressing up, it still managed to describe the wilderness and fondness for it well. I didn't always agree with the author, but he knows his topic inside and out and presented his thoughts coherently. There's lots of things to learn: cooking tips for squirrel and cougar, survival skill tips, and general notes on trapping, trailing, fishing, and shooting. I would have enjoyed Meat Eater a lot more if the author didn't describe his illegal hunts and evasive actions avoiding detection by rangers; yet, the author's honesty was appreciated, especially when he talked about hunting ethics. I'm torn about the final verdict on Meat Eater. Would I be friends with Rinella? Probably not. Would I trust Rinella to keep us alive if we were stranded in the wilderness? You bet. ( )
  alsvidur | Dec 25, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I had a difficult time with this book, an advance reader's edition of which I received as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers group. I had (and still have) never seen the author on television, so I was not predisposed to liking him (or his writing), even though we must be similar ages. Yes, parts of this book are beautifully written; but I suppose the reason I kept putting this book aside--I started and finished at least ten other books after having begun Rinella's--was because I just disapprove of needless killing. I was hoping the book would offer a convincing, compelling argument as to why hunting is good. But I never found such a justification. If the idea of providing food for your family is reassuring, I say: that's why I have a garden. The idea of the "thrill of the kill" just disturbs me on so many levels--as do comments such as the following: we "hunted squirrels because we liked to hunt them" (p. 28); "I felt nothing but the pure joy of accomplishment" upon killing a squirrel (p. 38); "We need to eat to survive. We need to kill to eat" (p. 112: How do vegans survive? What about Jains?); "How else do you reconcile your happiness over an animal's death with your sense of reverence for its life?" (p. 222, my emphases). If "hunting is an act of love," as Rinella concludes (p. 229), it's not an act of love to the animals themselves. I wish he had presumed that animal lovers would have been among his readers and had addressed some of their potential concerns. Indeed, I've got cousins who are hunters, and, even after having read Rinella's book, I unfortunately don't understand their motivations any better.
  sgump | Dec 11, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385529813, Hardcover)

An exploration of humanity’s oldest pursuit and its relevance today
 
Steven Rinella grew up in Twin Lake, Michigan, the son of a hunter who taught his three sons to love the natural world the way he did. As a child, Rinella devoured stories of the American wilderness, especially the exploits of his hero, Daniel Boone. He began fishing at the age of three and shot his first squirrel at eight and his first deer at thirteen. He chose the colleges he went to by their proximity to good hunting ground, and he experimented with living solely off wild meat. As an adult, he feeds his family from the food he hunts.
 
Meat Eater chronicles Rinella’s lifelong relationship with nature and hunting through the lens of ten hunts, beginning when he was an aspiring mountain man at age ten and ending as a thirty-seven-year-old Brooklyn father who hunts in the remotest corners of North America. He tells of having a struggling career as a fur trapper just as fur prices were falling; of a dalliance with catch-and-release steelhead fishing; of canoeing in the Missouri Breaks in search of mule deer just as the Missouri River was freezing up one November; and of hunting the elusive Dall sheep in the glaciated mountains of Alaska.
 
Through each story, Rinella grapples with themes such as the role of the hunter in shaping America, the vanishing frontier, the ethics of killing, the allure of hunting trophies, the responsibilities that human predators have to their prey, and the disappearance of the hunter himself as Americans lose their connection with the way their food finds its way to their tables. Hunting, he argues, is intimately connected with our humanity; assuming responsibility for acquiring the meat that we eat, rather than entrusting it to proxy executioners, processors, packagers, and distributors, is one of the most respectful and exhilarating things a meat eater can do.
 
A thrilling storyteller with boundless interesting facts and historical information about the land, the natural world, and the history of hunting, Rinella also includes after each chapter a section of “Tasting Notes” that draws from his thirty-plus years of eating and cooking wild game, both at home and over a campfire. In Meat Eater he paints a loving portrait of a way of life that is part of who we are as humans and as Americans.

“Chances are, Steven Rinella’s life is very different from yours or mine. He does not source his food at the local supermarket. Meat Eater is a unique and valuable alternate view of where our food comes from—and what can be involved. It’s a look both backward, at the way things used to be, and forward, to a time when every diner truly understands what’s on the end of the fork.”—Anthony Bourdain
 
“An engaging, sharp-eyed writer whose style fuses those of John McPhee and Hunter S. Thompson.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:58 -0400)

Steven Rinella grew up in rural Michigan, the son of a hunter who taught his sons to love the natural world the way he did. As a child, Rinella devoured stories of the American wilderness. He shot his first squirrel at eight and his first deer at thirteen. He chose the colleges he went to by their proximity to good hunting ground, and he experimented with living solely off wild meat. As an adult, he feeds his family from the food he hunts. Meat Eater chronicles Rinella's lifelong relationship with nature and hunting through the lens of ten hunts in the remotest corners of North America. Through each story, he grapples with themes such as the role of the hunter in shaping America, the vanishing frontier, the ethics of killing, the allure of hunting trophies, the responsibilities that human predators have to their prey, and the disappearance of the hunter himself as Americans lose their connection with the way their food finds its way to their tables.--From publisher description.… (more)

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