Friday, December 30, 2011

Not just about a tiger

John Vaillant’s book The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival is a fascinating read. The underlying story is about a man-killing Amur tiger (also known as a Siberian tiger) in far eastern Russia.

Local authorities set out to find the tiger – an incredibly dangerous hunt through dense woods, tracking a fierce predator that can see and hear them long before they detect it.

Vaillant obviously spent a lot of time researching the incident. He also researched the geography of the area, the history of the place and the people, the ecology of the boreal forest, and the attempts of Russians to save the Amur tiger from extinction. He presents a remarkable portrait of this remote region.

One of the aspects of The Tiger that I enjoyed the most was Vaillant’s references to other sources dealing with the region and Amur tigers. The book’s bibliography has provided me with dozens of titles for future reads.

When the author mentioned Akira Kurosawa’s 1975 film Dersu Uzala, I immediately checked out the DVD from our library and watched it. The film deals with the Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenyev, who spent years in the early twentieth century exploring the area where The Tiger takes place. Most of Dersu Uzala was filmed in the Siberian boreal forest, and it gave me an accurate sense of the Amur tiger’s habitat.

If you only want to read gory details of tigers eating people, this book will probably be disappointing. But if you are interested in learning about the political, social and conservation issues in a very remote and largely unknown part of the world, I highly recommend this book.

--Posted by Kay

1 comment:

  1. Kay - I couldn't agree more - thanks for this thoughtful review of a fascinating book.