Lauren 's Reviews > The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

The Tiger by John Vaillant
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Jun 01, 2016

it was amazing
bookshelves: general-nonfiction, animals, russia, favorites-nonfiction, ebook
Recommended to Lauren by: NPR
Read from November 16 to December 19, 2010

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 of the story is the investigation of a unique mauling in the remote forests in coastal Siberia in the mid-1990s. The team that is dispatched to look into the killing is very similar to a forensics team at a crime scene; they read the snow, see how the attack took place, follow the tiger's entrance and exit paths, and begin to formulate ideas based on what they find. The book focuses on this team (Inspection Tiger) and their members, as well as some of the nearby villagers. In doing so, the author's research delves into Soviet and new Russian politics, ideas towards the environment, science, and conservation, the biology and psychology of both the tigers and the humans, the wealth of myths and stories about tigers and other "monsters" throughout human history, the study of predator-prey biospheres, and the economics and black market demand for rare animals by superpowers like China. So, while the isolated incident of this one tiger on this one village is where the story starts, it is much bigger in context and ramifications.

Fascinating read - tied with Henriette Lacks as the best non-fiction of the year for me.

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Reading Progress

12/11 page 125
36.0% "Really enjoying this one - love the mix of biology, history, ethnography. Not even half way through, but I have learned a lot."
12/18 page 290
82.0% "Once I got going on it, I can't put it down. So fascinating. Watched the special on Siberian tigers on Netflix Instant and it was interesting to see the animals that this book talks about -"
02/17 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Stacey (new) - added it

Stacey Sounds great! Just added it to my "to-read" list, based on your review!


Lauren It is fascinating - I think you will like it :)


Christabel Seneque Me too--great review, Lolly. This book sounds really interesting and rich.


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