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The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival
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The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  5,011 ratings  ·  980 reviews
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. To their horrified astonishment it emerges that the attacks are not random: the tiger is engaged in a vendetta. Inju ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Knopf Canada (first published January 1st 2010)
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Dan Schwent
A tiger goes man-eater and terrorizes a remote Siberian village. Can Yuri Trush and his men end the tiger's bloody reign of terror or join its long list of victims?

It sounds like the teaser for a trashy thriller but this story really happened. The Tiger is the story of a rogue tiger and it's man-eating ways.

My description of The Tiger makes it sound like the book is one long tiger hunt but it's so much more than that. The tiger hunt piece is almost an adventure yarn but for me, the best parts o
Will Byrnes
Fearful symmetry indeed. In 1997, during time when the Soviet system had collapsed but nothing much had arisen to take its place, Vladimir Markov, desperate to provide for his family, made a very large mistake. In easternmost boreal Russia, he came across the remains of a huge wild boar and made off with it. Big mistake. The big pig was the prize of a local striped feline, and it took exception, a lot of exception. The region is a tough one and stealing anyone’s hard won resources is a big exist ...more
Let's start with the moral of the story first: Do not fuck with an Amur tiger. Because if you do, she'll probably hunt you down, break into your cabin, drag your mattress across a frozen river, and lie down on it while she waits for you to come home so she can eat you. Literally eat you.

John Vaillant's narrative about Amur tigers and the people who live with them in the remote village of Sobolonye, Russia is compelling enough that you'll start looking suspiciously at your cat by the time you're
Jason Koivu
Like the beast this book is about, The Tiger is patient. It stalks ahead with care and diligence as it learns about its prey, and each step forward the tension builds until the target is reached and then it pounces with devastating fury.

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant sounds like over-the-top macho stuff that should be avoided. Thankfully it is not. Instead it's a study of sociology, zoology, botany, history, geography, and the socio-economic climate of the far
Having heard of this book on NPR, I wanted to like it, the story of a man-eating tiger that hunts the hunters hunting it. The actual story could be told in 1/2 a cd; the other 9 1/2 CDs are filled with other stories. It is an ADD romp through the authors brain. If you want a geography work that goes down many, many tangential connections to the main story, this book will interest you. It is filled with many fascinating stories loosely connected to the main yarn. I got the book the b/c I was inte ...more
Jan 05, 2011 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lauren by: NPR
It's one of those books that you get so absorbed in and you learn all of these interesting facts that you want to share with people... for instance (I just have to share!) tigers are known for their virility and their strength - and the Sanskrit word for tiger *vyagghra* was Anglicized into "viagra" for the well-known impotency medication. Interesting, right? Well, there's more to learn inside this book!

The author tries to accomplish a lot in this book, and by and large, he succeeds. At the core
Every once in a while I crave one of these true-adventure/true-story tales. This one grabs you by the throat in the first page and does not let up. Talk about a skill with language, an ability to evoke--this is an amazingly written book, fantastic! And its about tigers, and politics, and people, and the environment they share. The environment is just incredible--sub-Arctic meets sub-tropics! Hurricanes and blizzards.

Vaillant weaves together culture, politics, history, and more to tell us of the
At its simplest, this is a tale of a tiger and two men. A Siberian tiger, huge, terrifying, beautiful, awe-inspiring. The two men: Vladimir Markov, an unemployed logger turned poacher, and Yuri Trush, a game warden whose job it is to catch poachers. They live within the tiger's range, the taiga or circumpolar boreal forest of the Russian Far East, which has been hard hit by perostroika (the locals refer to it as "katastroika"), a sort of post-industrial society in which the human inhabitants eke ...more
Nov 24, 2012 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mike by:
The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival has a great piece of advice if you ever find yourself in the wilds… don’t screw with a tiger. (I would have said something stronger but my wife has told me to “clean up” my vocabulary.) This book gets a strong 4.5 to 5 Stars from me. I was hooked on the story from the first page. The drama of a wounded tiger seeking and wreaking vengeance sounds “Hollywood” but Mr. Vaillant shows how this true story is even better than cinematic fiction. The majo ...more
"The Tiger" is the kind of nonfiction book that has many layers beyond what the title promises, all of which turn out to be interesting. The top layer of the story is about a Siberian tiger that, in the late 1990s, went berserk in the region of Primorye, a day's travel north of Vladivostok. It killed three people and terrified a town for days before the authorities put it down. The book introduces the tiger, its habitat, and its lifestyle. The next layer is showing what life is like for the inha ...more
My mother tells a true story about her mother and a cat. My grandmother had accidently stepped on the cat. The cat took umbrage. The cat hidden, waited, and then attacked my grandmother's feet.

House cats know about revenge and vengeance.

House cats wish they were as big as tigers. (At least my cats do, or seem to, when there are three dogs, not just the one dog, in the house).

Second bit of true infromation. Tigers are missing what is the tiger version of the collarbone. This allows them to jump r
The setting of John Vaillant’s remarkable work of narrative non-fiction The Tiger is Primorye, a little known province in Russia’s far east, a cruel and inhospitable place that is, counter-intuitively, crowded with the most unlikely profusion of wildlife, an array of flora and fauna so rich that the like of it exists in few other places in the world. Perhaps the most notable of these is the Amur tiger, an animal that has stepped maddeningly at the edges of dreams and superstition of all who cros ...more
May 25, 2011 Ms.pegasus rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: animal lovers, those interested in recent Russian history, and ecology
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: NPR interview
THE TIGER: A TRUE STORY OF VENGEANCE AND SURVIVAL by John Vaillant is both a gripping adventure with larger than life characters, and a lesson in geography and ecology. The setting is Russia's Maritime Territory, Primorye – a thumb(or claw) of land bounded by the Sea of Japan on the east, and Manchuria and the tip of North Korea on the West. Distinctive features include Vladivostok at the southern most tip, the Amur River which flows the length from Mongolia in the north to the Tartar Strait in ...more
Sigh, yet another popular book of narrative nonfiction that takes what is essentially a topic for a good magazine essay and blows it up to book length with all kinds of digressive excursions into anything remotely relating the main story. Basically, in 1997, a tiger killed a hunter in the Russian Far East, leading to a tiger-hunt. This takes about fifty pages to detail (and I do mean detail), leaving another 250 to be filled with all kinds of material, such as the history of the region (which is ...more
The Tiger by John Vaillant is more than a description of a hunt for a man-eating Amur tiger in a mountainous sliver of southeastern Russia that borders China, Korea, and Japan. In this book, Vaillant gives us the socio-political and environmental context of the tiger hunt, and introduces us to the lives of the men who did not survive the tiger and of those who finally chase the tiger down. The place where the tiger lived is memorably described as a mixture of “the backwoods claustrophobia of App ...more
I really enjoyed this story. The author really appears to have done his research into the vast and remote area of the Far East called Siberia. I really feel like he was able to present the people, the culture and the natural habitat of that area in great detail and with a good paced writing style. It's all in the details. I prefer details over the gist of a story and this book is chock full of details. True, the story itself could have been told in probably about half the amount of time however, ...more
Jen  Ferreira
Okay so...this is the true story of a man-eating tiger in Far East Russia. That's it. That's what it's about.

Who KNEW that a book about a man-eating tiger in Russia could be so incredibly fascinating and well-written? John Vaillant's writing is as ambitious as the very best of literary fiction and the real people of this tiny town take on the dramatic arcs of characters in a novel.

And of course, our main character, this fierce and vengeful tiger who is a very complicated villain considering th
Erik Simon
In another life, I want to come back as a wildlife biologist. In this life, I'm so in awe of so many mammals, and yet not enough to care so much about the science that undergirds study of them. So when I pick up books about these mammals, I can easily get bored or discouraged. That never happened in this book. It is a fascinating tale about one Siberian tiger, but in that tale I get so much natural history and history about tigers, Siberia, and the hardscrabble folks who live on the Eastern reac ...more
Somewhere between 4 and 5 stars.

This is excellent creative nonfiction. Reading about the power that the Amur tigers possess and the various encounters people have had with them left me with goosebumps several times. I loved the magical qualities attributed to the king of the taiga. What a magnificent animal! Also fascinating was the portrait Vaillant paints of the Russian taiga-dwellers involved in this tale: earthy, independent, and hardy with a deep respect for their natural environment. I fo
From 2001 to 2002, I lived in Primorski Krai, in the Russian Far East just 10 kilometers from the border with China, as a Peace Corps volunteer. I taught English and did my best to understand the people in the town and village where I worked, despite arriving in the country with little knowledge of the beautiful, complicated Russian language and an often paralyzing homesickness. A year into what was supposed to be two years of service, the Russian government abruptly decided not to grant my grou ...more
I had mixed feelings on this one.

I absolutely loved learning about the Amur tiger. Such an incredible creature: beautiful, powerful, intelligent, and terrifying. Certainly an animal that demands respect. It was amazing to hear what life is like for the people who live there amongst them. I can’t even begin to imagine sharing a habitat with tigers! Wow. I also really enjoyed all the bits of history on Russia and its culture. Those parts were truly interesting and I learned so much while reading
Barbara McVeigh
This true story of a man-eating tiger in the Far East of Russia reads like one of the very best suspense thrillers. I felt sheer terror from the beginning of the book. A man and his dog are returning to their cabin after a day of hunting. Suddenly they realize that something “is there by the cabin. The hackles on the dog’s back and on [the hunter’s] neck rise together. Together, they hear a rumble in the dark that seems to come from everywhere at once.”

John Valliant skilfully delays revealing w
Christopher Litsinger
After hearing about this on NPR I had added it to my reading list, and seeing it on a best of 2010 list popped it up to the top of the stack. This was an excellent book, I learned a lot about modern Russia, and tigers, and all sorts of fascinating tidbits of information were thrown throughout the book.
At times I felt the pacing was a bit off, I'm not sure if this was due to my own distractedness during a busy week, or if it was the cuts between the main "story" of this book and the little intere
People are fascinated by monsters, be they human or other animal. If this book were simply about a man-eating tiger and the hunt to stop the beast it would have an attraction for many readers.

But Vaillant’s story goes much deeper.

To be sure, the predations of the tiger and the efforts of his human stalkers are major features of the book and guaranteed to keep the reader biting his fingernails and turning pages to see what happens next.

Beyond that, the story is multi-faceted and totally fascinati
Kater Cheek
This book manages that rare but cherished feat of combining good research with a strong narrative structure. It's nominally about a tiger attack on woodsmen in far eastern Russia in the late nineties, but it's about so much more than that.

First of all, I, like many people, know very little about the Russian Far east, except for that minor flurry between Russia and Japan fighting over an island around that time. I knew even less of the Amur river valley, which borders China and Russia, and appare
This book reads like a murder turning and thought provoking. But it is so much more than that too! This book is filled with animal science, ecology, conservation efforts in Russia after perestroika, geography, psychology, umwelt theory, history and a whole bunch of tigers. In a land farther beyond Siberia, in the Russian Far East, Vaillant tells the true story of a tiger attack on a man in the late 90s. Reconstructing the crime scene, exploring motivations (man and beast) and the ...more
The story of the tiger that stalked a forest in the remotest forests of eastern Russia, killing hunters and terrorizing a community, is amazing enough -- but John Vaillant's combination of reportage, historical background, and meditation about the relationship between man and nature is, at its best, reminiscent of the nature writing of John McPhee, which is to say it's a real treat to read, constantly offering up amazing and/or unsettling revelations about its subject. The things you learn about ...more
Terry Brooks
This month I am going with a book called The Tiger by John Vaillant. The Tiger is one of those books you find yourself thinking about weeks after you've finished it. The story revolves around the hunt for a Siberian Tiger that has killed two men in one of the bleakest, most remote parts of Russia, a place even further removed from civilization than Siberia. What makes the story unusual is that the team hunting the Tiger after the killing of the first man comes to realize that the tiger is chosin ...more
Bernie May
Excellent book. Takes us through the story of one individual of an apex predator, links it to the economic, historic, social, and biological past of the far east, and then brings it into today's issues of over-population, climate change, and social justice without being preachy or boring. Well done.
Great true adventure of the hunt for a wounded Siberian tiger that has started killing men in the far eastern reaches of Russia, where the tigers still roam wild. The hunters in the area have achieved an uneasy peace with the tigers, but poachers threaten to drive them to extinction. Fascinating history of the area and legends and lore of the Siberian tiger. Scientific sources too. Riveting story. I particularly appreciated the author's speculation on early man's relation to the tiger. He posits ...more
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John Vaillant is a non-fiction author and journalist who was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has lived in Vancouver for the past thirteen years.

John Vaillant is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Outside, among others. His first book, The Golden Spruce (Norton, 2005), was a bestseller and won several awards, including the Gover
More about John Vaillant...
The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed The Jaguar's Children Am Ende der Wildnis: Umweltaktivist oder Ökoterrorist? Die wahre Geschichte vom Verschwinden des Grant Hadwin

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