The tiger : a true story of vengeance and survival

by John Vaillant

Hardcover, 2010




New York : A.A. Knopf, c2010.


It's December 1997, and a man-eating Siberian 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. An absolutely gripping tale of man and nature that leads inexorably to a final showdown in a clearing deep in the taiga.

User reviews

LibraryThing member msf59
In the deep wilderness of eastern Russia, a tiger hunts a man. He is a local hunter and poacher. The tiger is methodical and patient, like an assassin. It does not stalk for minutes or hours but for days. It is the dead of winter and the man is doomed.
Enter Operation Tiger, an under-funded agency, who’s primary job is to protect the endangered tiger. It’s a small group, led by Yuri Trush, a skilled hunter and environmentalist. They are given the special and dangerous task of tracking down this rogue man-killer, before it strikes again.
This fascinating and intense story, is not only about this harrowing true-life incident, but also covers many other topical issues, like Russia’s dire economic situation and describes the hard-scrabble lives of these inhabitants of the Far East, mostly outcasts and ex-cons.
The book also delves into the complex relationship of this magnificent predator and man himself, which stretches back eons.
This is impeccably researched and exceptionally well-written. Narrative non-fiction at it’s very best.
Here the author sketches the tiger:
“…picture the grotesquely muscular head of a pit bull and then imagine how it might look
if the pit bull weighed a quarter of a ton . Add to this fangs the length of a finger backed up by rows of slicing teeth capable of cutting through the heaviest bone. Consider then the claws: a hybrid of meat hook and stiletto…”

I’ve always admired this wonderful animal but now my adoration and respect, has gone to a whole new level.
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LibraryThing member -Cee-
Primorye, a slim territory of far east Russia, lies between the northeastern tip of China and the Sea of Japan. Remote, poor, heavily forested, and mountainous, it is where the last Siberian tigers roam. Natives have co-existed with these beasts in relative peace since before the Ice Age. However, having always been recognized as the primary predator in the past, these gorgeous and dangerous tigers are now in danger of extinction by humans.

Here is a powerful narrative non-fiction about the struggle of these tigers, those who are trying to save them, and those who are hunting them. Author John Vaillant writes a suspenseful story of one tiger that has turned into a man-killer. The fear, cunning, and courage of both man and beast are palpable. Survival is edgy for the hunters, loggers, villagers and the very predator they seek.

The Siberian tigers have been “both sacred and a scourge” to the native inhabitants of this region. These tigers were believed to have supernatural attributes. Poachers killed these animals for their body parts to be exported and consumed by humans who wanted to share in this revered strength and power. This previously unknown aggressive behavior of illegal hunters toward the tigers resulted in terrible consequences in return. They are dealing with a cunning intelligence and targeted vengeance.

“To say that a tiger is an ‘outside’ animal is an understatement that is best appreciated when a tiger is inside. Cabins are small, of necessity, and the tiger filled this one the way a cat would a fish tank. Much to the tiger’s irritation, Grisha Tsibenko was not at home. In the course of searching for something – anything- made of meat, the tiger destroyed the place. When he got around to the mattress which smelled richly of Tsibenko … the tiger tore it apart and then lay down on its harrowed remains…the tiger had arrived at a more efficient method: building on his success with cabin stake-outs and with mattresses, he combined the two here in a way that also warmed him in the process… now it was only a matter of time.”

But this book is about more than one man and one tiger. It is a look at the evolution of powerful predators, tigers and humans. There are unresolved conflicts between men who are marginally surviving on the land, the greedy who abuse this need, and those that see the future of the earth’s environment. Read it for the science – or read it for the suspense. And watch out! It will grab you!
Recommended. 4.25 stars
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
I found The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant a very compelling read. I was fascinated in learning about this event and about both the history and geography of this remote corner of Russia. I also learned a valuable life lesson - Never mess with a Tiger!

The Amur Tiger is quite rightly revered and respected in this part of the world. This superior hunting machine is at the top of the food chain and is a perfect predator and well adapted to this environment. There seems to be some evidence that the Amur Tiger also appears well able to hold a grudge and to target and specifically hunt down a human that it feels has done it wrong.

The story begins with Yuri Trush and his men of the Inspection Tiger, a organization that’s full purpose is the preservation of both the Amur Tiger and it’s habitat. These men are not particularly popular with the locals as this is a poverty ridden area that relies heavily on both hunting for food and extra income. In December of 1997, the Tiger Organization is called to investigate the death of a local from a tiger attack. A few days later a second man is attacked, killed and eaten. These incidents launch the story of the subsequent hunt for a man-eater, which the author tells side by side with his well researched, convincing plea on the need for the conservation of these animals and their habitat.

Totally gripping this narrative non-fiction story is a great adventure tale as well as a well defined thumbnail sketch of the people, politics and environment of Russia’s far east .
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LibraryThing member NWcats
This book is enthralling. Valliant does a great job bringing out the terror of the great beast, the tiger, and painting a picture of life in Russia's Far East. It's entertaining and extremely fascinating.
LibraryThing member zibilee
On December 5th 1997 in the remote village of the Russian Primorye territory, a vicious and startling tiger attack took place. The tiger, mad with blood-lust and rage, attacked and almost totally consumed a hunter and trapper named Vladimir Markov. But this tale isn't as simple as it first seems. When Yuri Trush and his team of investigators arrive at the scene of the attack, they find not only the startlingly gruesome remnants of Markov, but also discover that this particular tiger seems to have been inflamed with a desire for vengeance against Markov due to injustices committed by the hunter. Now injured and haunting the countryside for more human meat, the tiger is not only dangerous to humans and animals alike, but cunning enough to lure other unsuspecting humans right into its traps. The group of rangers responsible for catching this tiger have never dealt with a situation quite like this one before. Going by the name Inspection Tiger, these men are usually working on illegal poaching cases, and most of the time it's their job to protect the tigers from the men who want to kill them. This time, it's their responsibility to protect the men from the tiger, and it seems that this tiger isn't willing to play by the rules. Melded into this tense and absorbing storyline is the story behind Russia's total economic and political collapse in the years after perestroika and the total reorganization of the lives of Russia's people. Living on the fringes of society and exploiting the the wilderness for sustenance, this group of disenfranchised people are not only frightened by the wild tiger in their midst, but are also mistrustful of Inspection Tiger, making this a complex melange of danger that drastically affects the local population. Both gruesome and shocking, The Tiger tells a frightening story based on one of humankind's most primal fears and expounds on the miraculous killing machine that is the Amur Tiger.

A few months ago I was perusing the blogs and checking everything out and I came across The Boston Bibliophile's mention of this book. Though I had seen it mentioned before, I wasn't all that interested in it and had decided to pass it up. But something overtook me when I was reading Marie's thoughts on it. Her enthusiasm was so great that I immediately went over to the publisher's site to check it out. From that point on, I was hooked and knew that I had to read it. I can't put my finger on what it was about this book that so intrigued me, but whatever it was, it was hard to ignore. When my copy arrived and I settled down to read it, the people in my house were constantly being bombarded with tiger lore and myth until finally they politely told me to go away and be quiet. This book was such an interesting piece of non-fiction that I had trouble tearing myself away from it, and as such it was one of my best reads of the year.

Everyone is familiar with tigers. But do you really know just what makes a tiger such a lethal killing machine? Is it the claws that are described as having a double edge as sharp as a surgical scalpel, or the fact that its claw is needle sharp at the tip and closely resemble the talons of a velociraptor? Or is it the fact that its fangs are the size of a human index finger and are backed up by rows of slicing teeth? Perhaps it's the fact that when a tiger attacks it uses its tail as a stabilizing device, making its aim truer and its balance steady. Now imagine all this wrapped around five hundred pounds of muscle and turned against a human with a measly hunting rifle filled with buckshot. Factor in that this particular tiger was not merely angry but infuriated with Vladimir Markov. Even in the in the most optimistic outcome, Markov never had a chance. As Trush and his men begin to canvas the area, they discover that Markov may have engaged in some serious breaches of etiquette toward this tiger and that his infractions may have been the last straw that finally pushed the tiger into the realm of insanity. Furthermore, the tiger was not willing to stop at the death and consumption of Markov and decided to go around systematically destroying not only his property but menacing any others whom he had contact with. This was a serious tiger with a serious grudge.

As Vaillant relates his tale, he also fills in the gaps regarding the area and its inhabitants, showing his readers just why the people of the Primorye can't stay out of the forests despite the danger. Though communism is over and perestroika reigns, most Russians are finding it more difficult to survive amidst these changes than ever before. Money is almost valueless and some workers aren't being paid at all. The people of the Primorye are surviving by living in tight-knit communities where hunting and gathering are the only real ways to survive. Because of this economic climate, poaching is a highly lucrative occupation, with tigers being number one on the poachers' lists. It seems that there are not only lingering political tensions between Russia and China, but that China has an insatiable appetite for Russia's resources. This creates a situation in which Russia is exporting all its valuable resources to China in return for sub-par imports. The Chinese value tigers above all else, for their myths and lore tell them that the tiger is a spiritually powerful animal, and that by ingesting its body, they too will become more virile, strong, and dangerous. When the price for a whole tiger is upwards of $50,000, you can begin to see why your average hunter would risk the animal's fury.

Within these stories are housed the legends, lore and myths of tiger-kind. Vaillant explains how one can be "tiger-tainted" and how certain tribes believe that tigers share a generational memory of enemies. Some believe that if you respect the tiger and never interfere in its life, it will leave you to your own devices and never attack. Still others believe that tigers have been known to share its kills with humans but to take this meat will leave you forever indebted to this frightening creature. Some Chinese myths claim that even devils and demons are afraid of the tiger. Men's attitudes towards this remarkable creature vary greatly, from those who abandon a village if a tiger is seen wandering in it to those who have been confronted with a tiger only to punch it in the nose, but it's clear that the tiger is a supreme force to be reckoned with and not an animal to be taken lightly.

The blending of the animal and sociopolitical information in this book was really a wonder to behold. Just when one section seemed to be ramping up, Vaillant would switch over to the other, creating a constantly heady balance of human structure and tiger structure that I found delectable. In no way do I think that my review of this book does it justice. It's consuming and scary, deft and involving, and it's also meticulously researched. Not only are there eyewitness accounts of all the events, but there are some stunning photographs that will put the fear of God into you regarding the tiger and its attack. All of these elements are wound seamlessly around each other and they're not only relevant but somehow mystifying and hypnotizing. Vailllant succeeds brilliantly in weaving together all the aspects of this story and creates a tale that is not only carefully crafted but terrifyingly suspenseful and riveting.

I'm sure you can tell by now that I loved this book, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if you have to read only one non-fiction book this year, this is the one to read. Not only was it a beautiful piece of non-fiction, it had the added bonus of being incredibly creepy and unpredictable. What Vaillant does in this multi-layered and suspenseful tale will not only regale the most critical reader, it will also make you think about the tiger in a completely different way. Not only can these animals be cunning and unpredictable, Vaillant shows us that they can be incredibly smart and gentle when optimal conditions arise. A wonderful book full to the brim with excitement and information. Highly recommended and not to be missed.
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LibraryThing member gypsysmom
Based on what I had heard about this book I expected it to be the true tale of a man-eating tiger and the hunt to kill it. And it is that but it is also so much more. Vaillant weaves in facts about ecology, anthropology, shamanic beliefs, predation, recent and ancient history and psychology to the basic story. He captured the horror of a tiger attack and the beauty of the ancient taiga forest. He showed how the native Russians lived in harmony with the land while the newcomers, for the most part, saw it as a place of resources to be pillaged. He also demonstrated how these same newcomers suffered once perestroika removed the support of the state. Without the need to put food on the table by hunting the same animals that the tiger hunted Markov, the first victim, might still be alive. The people who live in this area are desperately poor and that desperation causes them to take risks.

The Siberian tigers are amazing creatures able to survive in the harshest climate. Unfortunately they have lost much of their traditional hunting area because of man. Sometimes the tigers become desperate too. Thus the conflict between man and beast arises. Will there be tigers in the wild 100 years from now? I hope so and Vaillant shows there have been some recent attempts at protection. Time will tell how effective these measures will be.
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LibraryThing member ecw0647
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.
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LibraryThing member Meggo
Time for another confession - I was rooting for the tiger. That being said, this was an extremely well-written story that was part history, part socialogical treatise, part biography, all fascinating -- a story about the Siberian tiger in general, and one man-eater in particular. Fascinating, if weighty, this was a very enjoyable book and well worth reading.… (more)
LibraryThing member oapostrophe
So much information is packed into this book along with a truly amazing story. The awesome and terrifying power of the Amur tiger is made abundantly clear as the author tells of several deadly tiger attacks in far eastern Russia. It's so much more than that. The main thread is one particularly large tiger that has crossed the line into man-eating. The brutal environment of the taiga, the impoverished lives of the Russians and native peoples who live there, and the men who are charged with hunting this tiger made it difficult to put the books down.… (more)
LibraryThing member JoshMock
John Vaillant's "The Tiger" revolves around the true story of a man-eating tiger in the far western reaches of Russia. The story mostly follows the main investigator, Yuri Trush, but also fills in the gaps through stories about various other affected townspeople. Those looking for a straightforward animal attack story will be disappointed as the book is also filled with boatloads of information related to Tigers, the Native population and Russia in general. Some would view this as information overload, and sometimes it did feel this way, but I mostly found that it balanced out the main "story" well by providing further insight into the situation and events that lead up to the attacks.… (more)
LibraryThing member Marlissa
I listened to the audible version of this book, which is narrated by the author. At first his flat delivery really bothered me (most audible books are narrated by actors), but once I got a little deeper into it, I appreciated being read to by the person most intimately connected to the material. The tale at the core of the book was a simple one. After being wounded by a hunter, a Siberian tiger starts stalking and killing local hunters. The agency charged with protecting this endangered species now has to hunt this particular tiger down.

But the larger tale is one of context: a relic habitat in a remote area, and the native people and Russian newcomers who struggle to survive in very tough economic times. Discussions of anthropology, ethology, human evolution and prehistory, Sino-Russian relations (past and present), environmental protection (or degradation), and more, made this one of the most fascinating listens I've tuned in to for some time.
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LibraryThing member pbjwelch
I've always been a little into tigers (and wolves); I first read the Jim Corbett books on tigers in my 20's, but this book has made me want to do some serious research on tigers. It's a page-turner and although repetitive (could have been about 20% shorter), fascinating not only for the actual story of this particular event but also for its broad range of information on 1800s north Asia (Siberia, Korea, N. China) and tigers (and bears) and shamanistic rites. [Did you know that the "brand-name Viagra is derived from vyaaghra, the Sanskrit word for tiger"(p. 211)?]

Tigers are extremely symbolic in Chinese art and culture (one of my areas of expertise) and I have come across information on how some scholars believe ancient Asian societies were based on animal cults. "The Manchus, Udeghe, Nanai, and Orochi, all of whom are Tungusic peoples long habituated to living with tigers, knew their place; they were animists who held tigers in the highest regard" (p. 141) will be my starting point…together with several recommended books from Vaillant's excellent list of 'tiger classics'.
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LibraryThing member Dabble58
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.
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LibraryThing member dickcraig
The author follows the story of a Russian man who has tried to kill a Siberian tiger for its value on the black market. Instead, the tiger takes specific steps to eat this hunter and leave nothing more that a few scraps stuck in his boots. The agency in charge of the preservation of the tiger is called in to hunt this tiger and kill it. At first the agent in charge would like to find a way to not have to kill the animal, but after another killing he knows he must hunt it down and destroy this beautiful animal. In addition to this hunt, the author traces the history of this tiger and how it has been able to survive from the dawn of man's arrival in this region.… (more)
LibraryThing member LynnB
This book takes you into the far-eastern portion of Russia, near the border with China. This is a world of many unique species of plant and animal. The most interesting members of the area's population are the large tigers and the people who eke out a living in the area by hunting and gathering. John Vaillant does a remarkable job of bringing the reader deep in the territory's history, culture and modern-day environment and economy.

This well-painted scene is the setting for the story of a sometime-poacher resident in the area who angers the area's largest tiger. The tiger seeks revenge against the man, and goes on to kill another person. A team of local law enforcement officers, the "Inspection Tiger" team, is responsible for tracking and hunting down the tiger before he kills anyone else. This part of the story is as gripping as any crime-novel thriller I've ever read.

In his first book, The Golden Spruce, and in this one, John Vaillant has displayed an ability to get into the head space, and physical space, of people (and a tiger) who are so different from those mos of us know. He's also proven to be a first-rate story teller.
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LibraryThing member Knud
I read this book over three days at Thanksgiving (here in Canada), which is the first time that's happened in a long time, especially for non-fiction.

The other reviews will tell you the basic storyline, but for me it was John Vaillant's writing that really was the key thing. For everyone I've told about this book (and there are many to match my enthusiasm), I've said that at time John's writing was like a combination of Hemingway and Conrad. There passages where you literally have to remember to breath.

That being said, the other great strength is the pacing and spacing of the book. If John had written only about the events concerning the tiger and main characters, the book would likely be 1/4 to 1/3 its length. It's all the other background, mysticism/old religion, anthropology, psychology, and other information current and historical that he provides that makes it so enjoyable. It will definitely be a book on my list to gift this Christmas.
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LibraryThing member marshapetry
Good but ...hmmmmm... the first chapter builds up the book to be much more than it is and, consequently, the book is sorta anti-climactic. I didn't really hear anything "unbelievable but true!" , which is what that first chapter led me to believe. It was a good book and very interesting - I just wish the author hadn't built up the book so much in the first chapter.… (more)
LibraryThing member wrensong
A truly great book if you are interested in Tigers, wildlife preservation and the incredible history of the Russian people. Included is lots of tiger mythology and the interaction of people with the tigers they live along side. The book traces the life of Vladimir Markov, his encounter with the tiger. Yuri Trush of the Inspection Tiger unit follows the path of Markov unraveling the sequence of events leading to Markov's decisions and eventual death. A very good read!… (more)
LibraryThing member Jcambridge
An interesting book, despite the fact the author provides perhaps too much detail. A broader audience for this book will likely be drawn from among those with an interest in the Russian Far East (about which I knew relatively little) and those who hunt.
LibraryThing member mountie9
The Good Stuff

One of the most brilliantly written non-fiction that I have ever read
Factual and Informative without being dry or boring and at the same time fascinating, powerful and intriguing
This is the first piece of non-fiction that I just didn't want to put down, I was totally riveted
The geography is so eloquently explained that you are amazed and interested by it all
Author does a fabulous job of making you truly understand and see the strengths of Trush. You can also see the authors fascination and respect for Trush
The way the author describes the Tiger is almost poetic (But in a good way as you all know of my dislike of most poetry)
Extremely thoroughly researched and impressive Bibliography
Fascinating glimpse into the lives and world of people in the Russian Far East which I am ashamed to say I pretty much knew nothing about
Ok at times I was totally cheering for the Tiger to win, after all we are in their territory, not the other way around -- however you can see mans point of view as well. Really makes you think

The Not so Good Stuff

Could have left out some of the detail
Didn't like seeing the pictures of dead Tiger's - I'm a wee bit sensitive that way

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"One of the many negative effects of perestroika and the reopening of the border between Russia and China has been a surge in tiger poaching. As the economy disintegrated and unemployment spread throughout the 1990's, professional poachers, businessmen , and ordinary citizens alike began taking advantage of the forest's wealth in all its forms."

"The Amur tiger, it could be said, takes a Stalinist approach to competition."

"The one certainty in tiger tracks is: follow them long enough and you will eventually arrive at a tiger, unless the tiger arrives at you first."

What I Learned

The Sanskrit word for tiger *vyagghra* was Anglicized into "viagra" -- hmm I wonder why
Tigers have fabulous memories and if hurt by a human they will exact revenge (Must remember that when playing with my kitten Oreo, as I am convinced she is part Tiger)
So many other interesting things, I really don't want to spoil it for you -- go buy the book already

Who should/shouldn't read

Anyone with an interest in Tigers
There is pretty much something in this for everyone. That being said there are some nasty descriptions that might upset the sensitive reader and there are some pictures of dead tigers

5 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much guys, you are constantly opening my eyes to works that I might never have picked up on my own
Posted by mountie9 at 9:31 AM
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LibraryThing member Sullywriter
Fascinating, riveting, richly layered narrative nonfiction set in the taiga of the Russian Far East. Besides telling a compelling story, the author delves into the evolution, biology, and behavior of tigers, their cultural significance, conservation, poaching, Russian history, ethnic minorities in Russia, and much, much more.… (more)
LibraryThing member NewsieQ
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!
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LibraryThing member BraveNewBks
This book took me forever to finish. The basic point of the book is a story about a rogue man-eating tiger in Eastern Russia, and how it was tracked down and killed. BUT, this relatively simple tale is drawn out over dozens of chapters, some of which veer off into in-depth explorations of tangentially related topics, like evolutionary theory (the relationship of hominids and large cats over thousands of years), or predator-prey dynamics, or the changes in the tiger's habitat over the past several decades. So a simple story ended up framing a series of pretty scholarly chapters that sometimes made me feel like I had to slog through them just to get to the part where I could find out what actually *happened*. I just wasn't sure whether I was reading a true-life adventure story or a textbook -- the hybrid was a little odd.… (more)
LibraryThing member LibraryCin
3.5 stars

The Amur tiger is endangered and the ones that are left are in the Far East of Russia, near the Chinese border. In 1997, a tiger attacked and killed two men, so more men were sent out to hunt and kill that tiger.

I think I had a wrong impression of what this book was about, so I ended up being a little bit disappointed. I thought this book was told from the tiger's point of view. Most of the book actually talked about the men - the poachers - who were killed by the tiger, then the last bit of the book was about one of the men who hunted the tiger, a man who usually tried to protect the tigers from the poachers. I found parts of the book slow-going. The most interesting parts of the book for me were about the tiger, and tigers in general. I also quite enjoyed the epilogue, which talked about the issues surrounding the endangered animal, and if and how it might be saved. I would have loved for there to be more focus on tigers, generally, in the book. Still enjoyed it, just a little disappointed that is wasn't what I'd expected and hoped.… (more)
LibraryThing member Scarchin
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.… (more)


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