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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: August 2010 ISBN: 9780307715081
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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

  • “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

  • “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.”

    Outside

  • “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.”

    Nature

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

    Providence Journal

  • 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 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 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 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 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 "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Celeste | 2/13/2014

    " This book could have used an editor. The author rambled and repeated himself and it just felt too jumbled. And included way too much about the Russian Revolution. Jeez, just tell me about the tiger attacks and subsequent hunt already! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Krista Smith | 2/12/2014

    " Loved the way this author was able to entwine Russian history with this single point in time. It just goes to show...leave mother nature alone! Especially when she weighs 500 pounds and has razor sharp teeth and claws. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Genni Gunn | 2/11/2014

    " Absolutely terrific book -- a combination of a gripping story of a Siberian Tiger turned maneater, fighting for survival among poachers and hunters, as well as the fascinating history and culture of an area of the world most of us have never visited nor will. The writing is superb. I felt as if I were there, experiencing this amazing story, in all its heartbreak and violence. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robin Nardi | 1/29/2014

    " Awesome book for animal lovers and adventure types. Set in Siberia with a touch of history, some violence, and engaging story line. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nina | 1/20/2014

    " One of my all time favorite non-fiction books. A must read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marylp | 1/18/2014

    " A lot of Russian history and history and facts about tigers. Promoting efforts to save the tiger. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Noah | 1/15/2014

    " awesome. reading it at the same time as into the wild (an accident, really) but the parallels between the two stories are striking. John Vaillant does a great job at unraveling what is a relatively simple story and giving it more social, political, and philosophical weight. awesome. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Lamb | 12/24/2013

    " Fascinating story about survival and vengance, all set in Siberia. It was a book club selection, one that I would not have chosen to read. Discussion was great. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deb Holden | 12/11/2013

    " Interesting but a little disjointed. Not much of a clear story but a lot of interesting facts about Siberia and tigers. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrew A. | 11/11/2012

    " A documentary about the depletion of the tiger population world-wide, honing in specifically on a wounded tiger in the Taiga region of Russia (in the far east, bordering on China) taking revenge on tiger poachers. Chilling and educational. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristin | 7/7/2012

    " This is an amazingly creepy story of a Siberian Tiger on the hunt for man. Very scary, the idea of a 500 pound animal on your trail...trying to kill you. I would rather have an assassin! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy Ellis | 4/5/2012

    " An excellent book, a must for all Big Cat lovers! The story of the lives of tigers and humans in Far East Russia during and after the Soviet Union, dealing specifically with an incident in 1997. A treasure full of fascinating information! Not for the faint of heart or stomach, though..... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 G | 1/10/2012

    " Think Jaws but in remote Russia and it's a true story of survival for man and beast. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lesley | 10/13/2011

    " I am currently reading this on my ipad. It was recommended to me by a friend and I think it is very good. I like real life adventure stories. One little problem, would have to be getting to grips with all the Russian names, but as long as I do not have to pronounce them so what! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 A.d. | 5/30/2011

    " A journey to a final confrontation, amid barely subsisting men and the wild, where you get to know everyone along the way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori | 5/21/2011

    " Not what I expected after reading the book's description. A very small portion of the book does have the story of a man-eating tiger terrorizing a community, but most of it is about the history, economics, and culture of the people and the natural history of far eastern Russia. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mandy | 5/7/2011

    " Took a while to get into it, but once I did, I loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne | 4/28/2011

    " It was a fascinating read. I learned so much about not only tigers but about the part of Russia where the events occur. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Annette | 4/28/2011

    " Should be a best seller, both for the writing style, which is amazing, the exhaustive research, and also for the message contained about both tigers and what they mean for the environment, and the human part of that equation. Fantastic! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Norah | 4/24/2011

    " So much information about tiger behavior! And also lots of history of the people of the taiga and their lives. Very interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lindy | 4/19/2011

    " Wow- what an excellent story! Learned so much about Russia. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bob | 4/14/2011

    " amazing non fiction account that read like a story.
    lots of Russian culture and history
    good one "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Al | 4/8/2011

    " Remarkable story and full of interesting facts. This is a story with many interesting side bars that keeps you intrigued from beginning to end. You emerge from the experience with admiration for the Tiger. "

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About the Author

John Vaillant is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Outside, and Men’s Journal, among others. Of particular interest to Vaillant are stories that explore collisions between human ambition and the natural world. His work in this and other fields has taken him to five continents and five oceans. 

His first book, The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed, was a bestseller and won several awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. His second book, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, was an international bestseller and has been translated into 15 languages. In 2014, Vaillant won Yale University’s Windham Campbell prize for nonfiction.