The Tiger

A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

By John Vaillant
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307268938, 352pp.)

Publication Date: August 24, 2010

List Price: $26.95*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the September 2010 Indie Next List
“What happens when the order of hunter and prey is reversed? Yuri Trush, a tracker living near a tiny Siberian village, must find a tiger that has recently killed a poacher. Trush and his team must learn what drives the tiger to behave in this terrifying new way before they can stop the carnage. By turns absolutely fascinating and monstrously chilling, The Tiger explores the world of the Siberian tiger from its mythic history and extreme habitat to modern economics and black market poaching.”
-- Marilyn Smith, Kepler's Books & Magazine, Menlo Park, CA


Description

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.




About the Author

John Vaillant is also the author of The Golden Spruce. He has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Outside, National Geographic, and Men’s Journal, among others. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife and children.




NPR
Tuesday, Sep 14, 2010

In December 1997, a tiger prowled the outskirts of a small town in Russia's Far East. In his book The Tiger, John Vaillant re-creates the events of that terrifying winter in an environment where man and tiger live side-by-side. More at NPR.org

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