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Carnivorous Nights: On the Trail of the Tasmanian Tiger

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  305 Ratings  ·  47 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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This book is.............odd. Essentially, two Americans decided that they should go to Tasmania to try and find a thylacine, the last living specimen of which died in a zoo in 1936. Their reasons for doing so go largely unmentioned, as do the reasons why they're SO CONVINCED throughout the course of the book that they're definitely going to see an animal that was declared extinct in the 1980s (animals cannot be declared extinct until 50 years after the last confirmed sighting).

They also seem t
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
An entertaining, if ultimately very depressing book about two biologists and an artist looking for the possibility of the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, still existing. Along the way we are treated to a tour of the flora and fauna of Tasmania, and the battle between protecting the native species and the relentless attempts to drain Tasmania of its natural resources. The characters are fun, especially the artist, whose works are found throughout the book. While the hunt doesn't bring up any new e ...more
May 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 14, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Conan Tigard
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before reading this book, I had known about the Tasmanian Devil, but not the Tasmanian Tiger. The Tasmanian Tiger was a dog-like marsupial that could be a long a six feet from nose to tip of tail. His jaw opened 120 degrees and had multiple dark stripes across this back and rear, which is why it was names after the tiger.

The artwork in the book by Alexis Rockman is utterly fantastic and adds a dramatic depth to the book. Never having traveled to Tasmania (and how many of us truly have), I had
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
Jun 10, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Apr 29, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
An entertaining travelogue looking at some unique wildlife of Tasmania.

Not much information on the thylacine as a species is presented, which isn't surprising given how little is actually known about the animal. However, there also isn't too much on post extinction sightings, either, which is a bit disappointing.

At times, their hunt for the Tasmanian Tiger seems more like an excuse for a nature trip through Tasmania with their pot head artist buddy than an actual investigation.

Still very enjoy
Elizabeth Desole
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 04, 2013 rated it liked it
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."
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.)
Sep 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Aug 16, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Amaroq de Quebrazas
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
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.
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 10, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Jo Rye
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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...
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