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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,171 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Vaillant Narrator: John Vaillant Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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: the tiger is apparently engaged in a vendetta. Injured, starving, and extremely dangerous, the tiger must be found before it strikes again.

As he re-creates these extraordinary events, John Vaillant gives us an unforgettable portrait of this spectacularly beautiful and mysterious region. We meet the native tribes who for centuries have worshipped and lived alongside tigers, even sharing their kills with them. We witness the arrival of Russian settlers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, soldiers and hunters who greatly diminished the tiger populations. And we come to know their descendants, who, crushed by poverty, have turned to poaching and further upset the natural balance of the region.

This ancient, tenuous relationship between man and predator is at the very heart of this remarkable book. Throughout we encounter surprising theories of how humans and tigers may have evolved to coexist, how we may have developed as scavengers rather than hunters, and how early Homo sapiens may have fit seamlessly into the tiger’s ecosystem. Above all, we come to understand the endangered Siberian tiger, a highly intelligent super-predator that can grow to ten feet long, weigh more than six hundred pounds, and range daily over vast territories of forest and mountain.

Beautifully written and deeply informative, The Tiger circles around three main characters: Vladimir Markov, a poacher killed by the tiger; Yuri Trush, the lead tracker; and the tiger himself. It is an absolutely gripping tale of man and nature that leads inexorably to a final showdown in a clearing deep in the taiga.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Magnificent…Suspenseful…The Tiger offers readers a shiver-inducing portrait of a predator.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Mesmerizing…A blistering good tale, stocked with fascinating characters, none more compelling than the tiger itself…The adventure book of the year.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “A masterpiece…What elevates The Tiger from adventure yarn to nonfiction classic is Vaillant’s mastery of language.”


  • “Brilliant…A tale of astonishing power and vigor…Read this fine, true book in the warmth, beside the flicker of the firelight. Read it and be afraid. Be very afraid.”

    Globe and Mail (Toronto)

  • “An epic story…A travelogue about tiger poaching in Russia’s far east opens up a new genre…[The] conservation thriller.”


  • “Riveting, often chilling…A remarkable, thoroughly researched, informative chronicle that will appeal to readers interested in the conservation of wildlife.”

    Providence Journal

  • “Nonfiction as riveting as any detective story…Vaillant sets the stage for an epic encounter that unfolds dramatically and inexorably, climaxing in a stunning encounter.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “An extraordinary book, bringing vividly to life this rare and terrifying creature and the men who are setting their lives at stake every day in a barely civilized part of the world. This is a real-life adventure story that is rarely encountered.”

    Washington Times

  • “A remarkable and thoughtful account of a distant place where man and animal meet with fatal consequences.”

    Richmond Times Dispatch

  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Selected for the September 2010 Indie Next List
  • An ALA Notable Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2010 Washington Post Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2010 Seattle Times Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2010 Christian Science Monitor Book of the Year for Nonfiction
  • One of the 2010 Globe and Mail (Toronto) Best Books for Nonfiction
  • A 2010 Publishers Weekly Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2010 Library Journal Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2010 American Bookseller Association Book of the Year
  • A 2010 American Library Association Best Book
  • A 2010 GoodReads Readers’ Choice Nominee for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Spencer Seher | 2/20/2014

    " What appealed me about this book is the idea of Siberia, which in my mind is a cold desolate forested no-man's land in the forgotten eastern corners of Russia. How scary it would be to encounter an apex predator waiting for you in the snow. Plenty of this expansive isolation was described in this book, but it was much more than I expected. Not only was it a murder mystery with the suspect a wild dangerous gigantic tiger that the investigators were trying to understand, but it was a history lesson on the area and people who lived there and these people's beliefs about tigers; a biology lesson on tigers and apex predator cats; a social history of that area of Russia; and the incredible and surprisingly rich knowledge of the psychology and mental capacity of tigers. I could see how someone reading this could find these tangents frustrating, especially if the reader was expecting a straight murder mystery. I found them endlessly interesting, because they revealed a cultural and natural world I was unaware of. A completely engrossing and amazing book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ann | 2/18/2014

    " very detailed look at bizarre tiger behavior, and the tigers' threatened habitat and tiger hunters - compelling "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jeph Mortron | 2/15/2014

    " The Tiger uses a tale of of the hunt for a man eating tiger to expose the reader to the devastation that the Amur Tiger has experienced at the hands of man. The main tale is broken up with insights that help the reader understand how the economic collapse of the soviet union led to a booming illegal tiger trade. The book itself offers a view of provincial Russia that the average reader will not often obtain from other sources. I came away from this book with more knowledge (albeit still lacking) of a large portion of the world that I was previously completely unfamiliar. This book is well worth your time if you have any curiosity about Tigers, ecology, or the state of a post communist Russia. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Ben Sharp | 2/14/2014

    " There is a lyrical quality to this book that I enjoyed. It reads like fiction (as good non-fiction should) and you're certainly rooting for the tiger, which comes across as powerful, elegant, worth of respect, ruthless, intuitive, and vastly more intelligent than almost any other animal species. Almost mystical. That said, halfway through, you know where this is going. It would be a fantastic long-form essay in The New Yorker though perhaps not necessary to be a full-length book "

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