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The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  10,250 ratings  ·  1,523 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. As the trackers sift through the gruesome remains of the victims, they discover that these attacks aren’t random: t ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2010)
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Will Byrnes
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature, nonfiction
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
Jan 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dan Schwent
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jason Koivu
Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Were This Standard Nonfiction, Such Would be My Addiction

The wonders you can find in the giant, bountiful gardens of literature never cease to amaze. One need only look widely enough and take a chance and she might be put in the Siberian taiga (the sometimes swampy coniferous forest of high northern latitudes) in far eastern Russia as the locals encounter a looming Amur tiger a/k/a Siberian tiger, an otherworldly animal in all its magnificence, a ne
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
Diane in Australia
Very cool book about a tiger on a vendetta ... seriously. True story told from the perspective of the poachers, the trackers, their families and, of course, the tiger. If you like learning about tigers in the wild, you'll probably enjoy this book.

4 Stars = Outstanding. It definitely held my interest.
In 1997, a tiger killed and ate a man in the far reaches of Russia's Siberia region. It did so in a methodical manner, unlike anything the people there had seen before. Soon, the tiger struck again, terrorizing a small village and then attacking another man and eating him. This was possibly not the tiger's first go around with eating humans. Determined to be a threat, the government's Inspection Tiger task force was given the responsibility to investigate and stop this tiger once and for all.

Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
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
Jill Mackin
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A man eating Tiger! A true story that takes place in far east Russia. The tiger gobbled up two men in two different attacks. A real pager turner. Lots of tiger lore, russian history and suspense of the hunt included.
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Laura Noggle
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 2019, nonfiction
Reads like true crime featuring the "Czar of the Forest."

This book is a trip into Primorye, a remote area in southeast Russia by the Sea of Japan.

A tiger tracks a man (/potential poacher) to his cabin, and waits for the man to come home. He is annihilated in one of the most violent deaths by tiger ever recorded.

"To end a person's life is one thing; to eradicate him from the face of the earth is another. The latter is far more difficult to do, and yet the tiger had done it, had transported th
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever heard of the Russian region of Primorye? I never had, but I was mesmerized by what I learned in this incredible John Vaillant book, THE TIGER. Primorye is a place that is both tropical and cold, and it lies in the southeastern corner of Russia. In this area, even the bears give way to the largest tigers in the world. This is an amazing account of a man-eater, as well as the fascinating cultures and politics of a seemingly isolated part of the world. I loved this book.
Dec 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
This is a hard book to rate. Some passages were brilliant and rated a 4; others bored me half to death and would merit only a 2. Overall a decent read, with good subject matter and adequate research. The author has a tendency to wander off topic; sometimes this enhances the story but there are those other times where you wish he would quit lecturing and get back on topic, already. It's a book with great potential but might have been improved by being briefer and more to the point.
Sep 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
"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
Carol Moore
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Tiger ***** John Vaillant

I highly recommend this book. Not just for the story, although it’s compelling, but for the history. The story itself is about a Siberian (“Amur”) tiger which is very hungry, badly injured, and irritated. It starts killing members of a Russian community in the Primorye province. The men have the dangerous job of tracking the tiger and killing it.
But there's a lot more here: interesting information about tigers, the culture of the Russian Far East, issues regarding t
Peter Tillman
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
The review to read here is by Will Byrnes,
Key quote: "Vaillant’s tiger tale is nuanced." Note that the man-killing tiger was injured, and could no longer hunt its usual prey -- as is common in historic man-eaters. And tigers need a LOT of meat to survive a Siberian winter. You do not want to be charged by a hungry, 500 pound tiger! It's quite a story, and I recommend it with a few reservations. 3.7 stars, rounded up.

A couple more adds, from my sparse note
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nancy Oakes
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
In brief: The Tiger is a simply amazing work of nonfiction, detailing the hunt for an Amur tiger responsible for killing a man in the far east of Russia, in Primorye. While this is the central story in this book, around this narrative Vaillant provides a look at the environment, ecology, and history of the area, as well as an examination of the cultural make-up of the people who inhabit this place and its boundaries. Throughout the book the author details how perestroika and the fall of the wall ...more
John Devlin
Sep 21, 2010 rated it did not like it
Back story Hell: back story about Russia, back story about China, back story about China vs Russia, back story about the main character, back story about tigers, back story about man-eating tigers, back story about victims of man eating tigers. I expected something akin to Jaws on Land and got lengthy discourses on the failure of perestroika and how utterly crappy it is to live in villages where the temperature gets to 40below.
Kater Cheek
Nov 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Christopher Litsinger
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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Reading Everythin...: The Tiger: A true Story of Vengeance and Survival 1 11 Mar 16, 2014 01:49AM  
Edwardsville Publ...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Page Turning Non-Fiction: Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival 7 16 Oct 29, 2013 11:50AM  
ELEVEN READER'S CLUB: update 5 1 7 Jan 16, 2013 10:25AM  
ELEVEN READER'S CLUB: update 4 1 3 Jan 14, 2013 05:51PM  
ELEVEN READER'S CLUB: update 3 1 5 Jan 10, 2013 06:38PM  
ELEVEN READER'S CLUB: update 2 1 4 Jan 08, 2013 05:44PM  

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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

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