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Carnivorous Nights: On the Trail of the Tasmanian Tiger

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  236 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Packing an off-kilter sense of humor and keen scientific minds, Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson, along with renowned artist Alexis Rockman, take off on a postmodern safari. Their mission? Tracking down the elusive Tasmanian tiger. Tragically, this mysterious, striped predator was hunted into extinction in the early part of the twentieth century. Or was it?
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 11th 2006 by Villard (first published 2005)
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When I started this book I thought I was really going to enjoy it, but then, after reading a bit and mulling on it, I changed my mind. There was one thing I couldn't get my head around, and that was the constant use of the first person plural (at least, I think that's what you call it). The authors, and there were two, would constantly refer to themselves as "we", which I guess is understandable, but it just didn't work. It felt like the queen was writing the damn thing, and it didn't just apply ...more
As an American living in Australia who is interested in the native wildlife, I really enjoyed this book. It was a quirky mix of travelogue, information on Tasmanian fauna and flora, and an American perspective. Though it is packed with good information and has additional reading materials in the back, it is not an indexed authority on any subject. It is more the recording of three Americans traveling to Australia to learn more about the elusive and sadly probably extinct Tasmanian Tiger. As such ...more
Michael Livingston
A kind of gonzo nature book, with a group of New Yorkers traipsing around Tassie getting high and trying to track down the Tasmanian tiger. It's filled with great characters, fun anecdotes and plenty of fascinating facts. The writing is clear and funny at times, but the collective first person pronoun style of narration ('we almost fell', 'we dreamed about Tassie devils' etc) grated a bit. It's ultimately a sad story, about the ways in which humans destroy the environment - the sections at the e ...more
A book trying so hard to be loved and fun that it simply annoys.

Think of a Golden Retriever puppy with a coke habit. THAT is the tone of this book.

For me, the combination of trying-too-hard-to-be-loved writing style, the first/second person narrative voice, their unfortunate need to place themselves at the center of every scene, and the remarkably fractured attention span was simply unreadable even though I was actively excited in the topic of Tasmanian bio-geography. There is something like a
Altogether a fun and informative romp through Tasmania and mainland Australia in search of the extinct and quasi-mythical thylacine.

As other reviewers have noted, however, the narrative voice is rather irksome, and gives the impression that the two authors speak, think and live as a single unit. You begin to wonder if they ever take a break from each other. Also, Alexis Rockman, while a talented artist, is utterly insufferable as a human being. If ever there was a man high on himself, he would
Good, very depressing book about a contemporary (fairly low-intensity) search for the Tasmanian Tiger. It discusses a number of other strange Tasmanian animals and spends a fair amount of time on the history of the tiger itself, and on sightings/evidence since 1936.
Sphinx Feathers
Well-described and interesting not only for its facts about the Tasmanian Tiger, but fascinating for its details about other wildlife and facts about Tasmania. This is a great example of what travel literature and nature literature should be.
As soon as I saw the cover of this book, I knew I had to read it - as a native Tasmanian I love reading books that have a familiar setting as they are sadly few and far between. Add the bonus of finding out more about one of Tasmania's icons, the Tasmanian Tiger and I was really looking forward to this.

Strangely, the book is written in first person plural - which wouldn't have been so bad but for the references to things that 'we' did such as 'we dreamed' and 'we imagined'. In fact, it's so vagu
Mostly, I am just happy I am finally done. Yippeee. I read this as a read-aloud to my thylacine-obsessed daughter (9 y.o.) and it took a LONG time. (Even she was mystified by the use of the weird "royal We" thing that the authors' used ALWAYS even when describing THEIR nouns which can't be collective (dreams?))*

Anyway - mostly we read it for their journey through New Zealand to find out more about the thylacine - why they disappeared (or not) and the people that are still looking for them. Alon
Jul 20, 2008 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People looking to learn about the wildlife of tasmania.
I love the thylacine and looked forward to reading this book for quite sometime. Although first chapters were pretty exciting and interesting it started to get a bit dull toward the center and downright tedious at the end.

I agree with one of the other reviewers. It would have made an excellent long article in the New Yorker or something but it's 20 some chapters wear thin and become pretty formulaic.

1) We go to this place to look for the thylacine.

2) We meet a colorful character.

3) Weird things
Fascinating, and frequently humourous, search for Tasmanian Tiger. Insights into the staus and fate of many other Australian animals as well. Beautiful illustrations which Alexis Rockman made using various substances found on site.
A nice book, with some excellent anecdotes and information which I can use for an upcoming trip to Australia - however, the authors' use of the royal pronoun "we" - sample: "we dreamed about..." is decidedly eccentric, at its best, and off-putting at its worst.
After becoming fascinated by the Tasmanian tiger, a creature presumed to be extinct, the authors and their artist friend head out on an expedition to try to find evidence of the continued existence of the tiger. Interviewing a host of eccentric figures and passionate environmentalists, the story of the tiger is ultimately tragic but still filled with hope. More than anything it turns an eye to the continued threat that much of Tasmania and areas like it face. It's a story of how destructive huma ...more
First, this book has a supremely awesome title. The story almost lives up to it. I appreciated the quirky humor and earnestness of the authors' obsession with the Tasmanian tigers. I run across a lot of nature kooks in Galapagos, so found it refreshing that the authors were able to express a love of wildlife and concern about extinction without heavy-handed moralizing. Also, the watercolors that illustrate this book are amazing for the simplicity through which they capture movement. That said, t ...more
Julie Chettle
Some times you need to look at the place you live, it's history, politics and animals through the eyes of others to
realise just how special it is. I am a believer.
This book was pretty interesting - it had some REALLY gross parts (like land leeches!!). The cloning part was very reminiscent of what was discussed in Richard Stone's Mammoth: The Resurrection Of An Ice Age Giant. All in all, this was a very fun and educational read. Although, it certainly didn't make me want to vacation in Tasmania. It was a little disheartening to learn about the path to the Tasmanian Tiger's extinction... but it was still a fun and fascinating read!
Elizabeth Desole
In the first few chapters I thought this will be a 5 star for sure. I loved the humor, the interesting factual information and the narrative pacing. After a while, I must admit that the cutesy humor began to wear on me-especially the things the artist said. Also somewhat annoying was that the co-authors wrote as one voice. "Last night we had a dream..." Really, you two had the same dream? Overall though, I really enjoyed it and learned a bunch about Tasmanian wildlife. Now I'm itching to read ab ...more
I enjoyed this one despite the narrative choice of using the second person plural. It made the authors sound like conjoined twins - or was it the royal "we"? - it was a consistent irritant throughout the book. Luckily the trek around Tasmania was interesting as an introduction to some of the nifty places and critters of that island. We've planned it as part of our trip to Oz next month (me and my conjoined twin) and I made notes and got ideas on where to go when we get there. Wombats - Old growt ...more
Jo Rye
I really enjoyed this tale of Americans coming to Tasmania, 'on the trail of the Tasmanian Tiger'.
I have long despaired of the extinction of the Tiger. This book gave me hope that many other people care about the fate of the tiger. It also gave me hope that it could still be out there...
I'm 3/4 of the way through and thought this was a lot of fun to read while on my recent camping trip. It is a search for a (thought to be extinct) creature and gives a lot of history about Australia, Tasmania, and the animals of that region with a funny writing style. Only complaint is that I didn't much like some of the 'characters' and the ever present pot smoking didn't do much to add to the book (for me.)
I have to admit it was pretty interesting from start to finish, but content-wise there isn't really much to this book. It comes off as something written as an assignment by someone who didn't take the class all too seriously. Well written as far as the use of the English language goes, and like I said I actually enjoyed it more or less, but I never really thought to myself "this was really worth the read."
I don't know where I heard about this book, but it was on a little scrap of paper to read and I finally did. I thought it was really interesting and entertaining. Each chapter started a little adventure into a different part or inhabitant of Tasmania. I would definitely have given it an extra star if it hadn't had, in my opinion, unnecessary bad language.
The right ingredients are there, but they're boiled down into an unappetizing sludge. The characters have boring personalities, and their jokes were boring and their trip was boring and the boring secret of their boring trip is that they never get up close to the Tasmanian tiger. A bit of Steve Irwin-style schtick lightens the slog, but not much. Clumsy and insipid.
Another book that should have been a long article. The subject matter is great, fresh and interesting (for being an extinct animal and all...), but all of the anecdotal meetings with people could have been summarized into interesting facts about the tiger instead of whole narrative chapters. To paraphrase my Uncle Rich paraphrasing Homer, BOOOO-RIIIING.
Jenny Gendel
Really got into it, but wished the authors hadn't used we for everything, either attributed it to one author or the other. I would have liked more of both of thier individual personalities. I did REALLY enjoy Alexis' artwork throughout the book. It beautiful, and I hope to see his work in person some day.
Just finished this as we reached Australia. A wonderful account of a party traveling to Australia to determine if the Tasmanian Tiger is truly extinct. I really learned alot about Australia from this book and it has made my trip that much better. A must for anyone interested in Australia or planning a trip.
Claudia Piña
Creí que me iba a gustar más.

Es entretenido, las anécdotas y la información sobre el viaje son interesantes e incluso da espacio para reflexionar un poco sobre nuestro papel en el planeta, pero francamente el tono me pareció algo molesto, el punto de vista muy cerrado y el libro en general poco organizado.
Amaroq de Quebrazas
The travel books of travel books for an up-close zany adventure through the wilds of the Tasmanian island bush where a band of odd human travelers meet animals face-t-face in their overall search for the elusive, thought by some to be extinct, Tasmanian Tiger--some call it the Tasmanian Marsupial Wolf.
Jacqueline Toce
It was fun to read about the biodiversity of Tasmania. I liked their travelogue also but like some of the other readers have commented here, it got a little tedious and repetitive in the the end and it was hard to push through the last few chapters. The artwork in the book is really nice.
Extremely enjoyable, highly recommended! Travel-slash-nature writing novel. Only 4 stars because of the authors' strange decision to meld themselves into one being and use the pronoun 'we' for everything, which was deeply strange and extremely distracting.
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