A True Story of Vengeance and Survival
Alfred A. Knopf, August 2010
In the Russian Far East, there is a sliver of the country that lies between China and the Sea of Japan. This is the last bastion of the Siberian tiger, and this where an unemployed logger-turned poacher named Vladimir Markov ran afoul of a big one in December of 1997. He shot it under cloudy circumstances, but tigers are hard to kill, and they have a capacity for vengeance. This tiger hunted Markov like an assassin – tracked him down, waited with a deadly patience, and killed him by his own front door. And then he ate him.
An extraordinary piece of nonfiction involving Siberian Tigers, a few men made desperate by the effects of Perestroika, and the terrifying encounters that result - all as a means of entry into some new intellectual territory.
“An absolutely superb book. There have been many tiger books but none which so deeply try to probe the mind of tigers and the mind and habits of humans living in the same forest.”—George Schaller, Wildlife Conservation Society vice president and author of National Book Award winner THE SERENGETI LION
“This book must be read by everybody who is interested in the conservation of wildlife. It takes you to the Russian wilderness to meet face-to-face with the Siberian tiger.”—Temple Grandin, author of ANIMALS IN TRANSLATION and ANIMALS MAKE US HUMAN
“This elegant work of narrative non-fiction has it all— beauty, intrigue, a primeval locale, fully realized characters, and a conflict that speaks to the state of our world. Obsessively well-researched and artfully written, THE TIGER takes us on a journey to the raw edge of civilization, to a world of vengeful cats and venal men, a world that, in Vaillant's brilliant telling, is simultaneously haunting and enchanting.”—Hampton Sides, author of GHOST SOLDIERS, BLOOD AND THUNDER, and HELLHOUND ON HIS TRAIL
“The Tiger is the sort of book I very much like and rarely find. Humans are hard-wired to fear tigers, so this book will attract intense interest. In addition to tiger lore and scalding adventure, Vaillant shows us Russia's far east and its inhabitants, their sometimes desperate lives interwoven with the economics of poaching and the politics of wildlife conservation. I was startled to learn about the zapovedniks and Russia's primary place in global conservation. This is a book not only for adventure buffs, but for all of us interested in wildlife habitat preservation. ”—Annie Proulx
“...Suspenseful and majestically narrated ... Vaillant has written a mighty elegy that leads readers into the lair of the tiger and into the heart of the Kremlin to explain how the Amur went from being worshipped to being poached. ”—Publisher's Weekly (starred)
“That part of far eastern Russia known as Primorye Territory, or Outer Manchuria...is also home to the unutterably magnificent, very rare, stunningly beautiful and legendarily vengeful giant cat Panthera tigris altaica, the Siberian tiger. A third of a ton of tooth and claw and quiet distemper, this haunting beast, padding silently between the trees, is the true hero of a book that manages to be at once exciting, memorable — and perfectly, impeccably right. So read this fine, true book in the warmth, beside the flicker of firelight. Read it and be afraid. Be very afraid. ”—Simon Winchester, The Globe and Mail
“Few writers have taken such pains to understand their monsters, and few depict them in such arresting pose. When the tiger stalks, the book soars.... [Vaillant] takes the reader deep into the tiger's world, creating an intimate portrait of its inner life.”—The New York Times Book Review
“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 Magazine