Monday, February 21, 2011


A fantastic book, John Vaillant's The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (Knopf, 2010). Far Eastern Russia, the taiga, bitter cold, hard people in a hard landscape. And tigers. And tiger lore and etiquette and myth. And men with names like Yuri Trush and Vladimir Schetinin and places called Primorski, Sobolonye, Vladivostock, the Bekin River (pronounced be-KEEN). The forest. The complex interconnectedness of Tigers and humans sharing a landscape.

This story is told in rich confident prose, and with great pacing. He weaves in and out of the main story - the stalking, killing, and devouring of a forest poacher by a vengeful tiger - with fascinating divergences into anthropology, tiger biology, tiger conservation in the Russian Far East, Russian history.

See Tim Flannery's essay at the New York Review of Books, it discusses The Tiger as well as Elizabeth Tova Bailey's The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. For ongoing information on the Amur Tiger (commonly known as the Siberian Tiger) in Russia, check out the Tigris Foundation. Also 21st Century Tiger.