In the furthest eastern region of Russia, a poacher is killed and eaten by a tiger and the authorities track the tiger and kill it. Sounds cut and dried. But this book tells so much more. We are taken through the history of tigers in the Far East, their ancient relationship with man, the evolution of Russian culture and economics before and after Perestroika, and the role of the tiger in Asian culture – both traditionally and in the modern world.
John Vaillant uses this one incident to to tell a phenomenally beautiful and riveting story of man vs. beast as well as man vs. man. It was often difficult to choose for whom to cheer and/or cry. I kept forgetting I was listening to a true story, yet if this had been a novel, it would have been criticized as too impossible to be credible.