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Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (original 2010; edition 2011)

by John Vaillant

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6594314,774 (4.02)104
Member:Bangsi
Title:Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival
Authors:John Vaillant
Info:Sceptre (2011), Paperback, 352 Seiten
Collections:Kindle, Your library
Rating:***
Tags:non-fiction englisch, read in 2013, Kindle

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The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant (2010)

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Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Sad story of one tiger with history and side lights. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
This is a fascinating tale, not so much for the Tiger in question, but because of the extensive information about life in this area of the world. The Siberian Tiger is truly a terrifying animal, and its ability to hold a grudge is notable. I wonder how many more of the animals we are gradually wiping out think angrily of us; what if they got together?
I quite enjoyed learning about village life and the various people involved with care of animals in the wilds of Siberia. the book "reads long" - it is well-written and smooth but requires thought as you progress, and I found myself putting it down by times to digest.
Still, recommended highly for a view into a part of the world few of us will see. ( )
1 vote Dabble58 | Jan 1, 2014 |
The Tiger is about attacks by a man-eating tiger in the taiga of eastern Russia in December 1997, and the hunt for the killer tiger. If there are topics in which I have less interest, I can’t think of what they would be. Because of the author’s narrative approach, added context and terrific writing, I couldn’t put it down. I never would have picked up The Tiger in the first place if it hadn’t been one of the selections for a non-fiction book discussion group at my public library. I always give those books at least 50 pages to catch my interest. I’ve been surprised before.

When I said the book is about a “man-eating” tiger, this is no exaggeration. In one case, a victim’s remains fit in a Dopp kit. This is one mean tiger. But the author paints a picture in which it’s easy to feel sympathy for the animal, imputing that the tiger is interested in revenge against specific individuals for acts they committed – violations of unwritten rules for human-animal interactions in the wilds of Siberia. When I think about the simple logistics of “getting the story,” I can only admire the author. What perseverance it must have taken to stick with a story that takes place in such a wilderness.

I recently watched the documentary Happy People, about life on the taiga. But after reading this story, I can’t imagine why people would stay in such a godforsaken place. Russia + terrible climate. Ugh! ( )
  NewsieQ | Dec 9, 2013 |
A tiger stalks his prey in the poverty-stricken no man's land of post Soviet Russia. Meanwhile, an ardent conservationist stalks the tiger in an effort to kill him - before he kills again. Brutal murders, suspense, history, science, and a touch of mysticism - I've never read anything like his. And here's the kicker - a true story! I highly recommend it for a summer read. ( )
  Scarchin | Nov 12, 2013 |
Absolutely fascinating book.

The Primorye region of the Soviet Union is like an anomaly, existing at the confluence of arboreal forest and subarctic environments. It’s at the intersection of four distinct bio-regions. It’s home to a huge variety of species not found elsewhere: sturgeon the size of alligators, It pushes the limits of the four and attempts to classify the area by biologists have resulted in “marble-mouthed results.” Here’s Vaillant’s description: “Here, timber wolves and reindeer share terrain with spoonbills and poisonous snakes, and twenty-pound Eurasian vultures will compete for carrion with saber-beaked jungle crows. Birch, spruce, oak, and fir can grow in the same valley as wild kiwis, giant lotus, and sixty-foot lilacs, while pine trees bearing edible nuts may be hung with wild grapes and magnolia vines. These, in turn, feed and shelter herds of wild boar and families of musk deer whose four-inch fangs give them the appearance of evolutionary outtakes. Nowhere else can a wolverine, brown bear, or moose drink from the same river as a leopard, in a watershed that also hosts cork trees, bamboo, and solitary yews that predate the Orthodox Church. In the midst of this, Himalayan black bears build haphazard platforms in wild cherry trees that seem too fragile for the task, opium poppies nod in the sun, and ginseng keeps its secret in dappled shade…. It is over this surreal menagerie that the Amur tiger reigns supreme.”

Many of the “quintessential” cultural objects associated with North American Indians originated in this area and made their way across the Bering Strait to the Americas: the birchbark canoe, tepee, totem poles, bows and arrows, dog sled and kayak-style paddles.
Lots of interesting material here beside the land itself and the hunt for a hungry tiger who has begun eating humans. It’s an area that is closer to Australia than Moscow, very close to the Sino-Russian border, how perestroika has affected the poor residents,

The tiger, having been injured by a poacher, is no longer able to hunt and takes revenge (tigers are imbued with supernatural qualities by the locals,) in the area in far south eastern Russia around Sobolonye, described by Vaillant as “the last settlement at the end of a road that, when not buried in snow, can go from choking dust to sucking mud in the space of an hour... The place has the feel of a North American mining town circa 1925, only with fewer straight lines." Yuri Trush’s job is to track and kill the tiger. Politically, the area is isolated and forgotten. One postman described it as anarchic. Poachers seek to make a living off Chinese desire for tiger skins and testicles.

Valiant mixes in evolutionary theory with the story. To make it out of Africa early humans had to develop the brain power and skill to survive when faced with such a formidable foe. Ghosts of our ancestors abilities haunt and inform our responses. Richard Koss, a psychologist created a virtual savanna devoid of anything but thorn bushes, a boulder, and a rocky crevasse. He presented this to several American preschoolers and then introduced a lion into the virtual world and asked the children what they would do. One in six picked the boulder -- these would not have survived against the lion. The remaining 80% picked the thorn bush or crevasse.

The NYTimes reviewer compared this book to Moby Dick, “alternating a gripping chase narrative with dense explanations of the culture and ecology surrounding that chase. “Jaws” fans will recognize the dramatic strategy of keeping the beast offstage as much as possible to allow terror to fill in the blanks, as well as a certain lurid detail at the book’s end, which I won’t reveal.” High praise in my book.

I feel sorry for those who complained that the story dragged and there was not enough action in the tiger hunt. This is a wonderfully detailed examination of a culture and the effects of political and cultural changes on a people isolated from the rest of the world and what extreme poverty forces people to do to survive. It’s also the story of evolutionary competition between two apex predators. Non-fiction at its best. ( )
2 vote ecw0647 | Oct 20, 2013 |
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Epigraph
"In the taiga there are no witnesses"
- V. K. Arseniev, Dersu the Trapper
"no easy bargain
Would be made in that place by any man"
- Beowulf
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Hanging in the trees, as if caught there, is a sickle of a moon.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307268934, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2010: Deep in the frigid Siberian wilderness, an Amur tiger hunts. Fearsome strength is at the command of a calculating mind that relentlessly stalks its newest prey: man. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the taiga, John Vaillant provides an unforgettable true account of a lethal collision between man and beast in a remote Russian village during the late 1990's. At its core, The Tiger is the story of a desperate poacher who picked the wrong tiger to accost. Yet it engages the reader on political, socioeconomic, and conservation fronts in order to explain how the stage was set for a deadly showdown. It's a gutsy approach that could easily lead to chaotic storytelling, but Vaillant is careful to keep the bone-chilling storyline taut by capturing the intensity of an animal worthy of our greatest respect and deepest fears. --Dave Callanan

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)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:30 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Documents the efforts of a tiger conservation leader who was forced to hunt a man-eating tiger through the brutal Siberian winter, an effort that familiarized him with the creature's history, motives and unique method of attack.

(summary from another edition)

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