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Tigers in the Snow

Matthiessen, Peter

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ISBN 10: 0865475768 / ISBN 13: 9780865475762
Published by North Point Press
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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About this Item

0865475768 North Point Press, 2000. Hard cover, first edition; signed and inscribed by author Peter Matthiessen on title page. Fine condition in near-Fine dust jacket; a lovely copy. Bookseller Inventory # SKU1043279

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Tigers in the Snow

Publisher: North Point Press

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


No more than a few thousand tigers now survive in pockets of Asia, a continent they once roamed far and wide. The largest of them, the Siberian tiger, is today almost entirely confined to the little-populated Russian Far East. Nearly extirpated before World War 11, Panthera tigris altaica made a comeback in subsequent decades. When poaching and habitat depredation following the implosion of the Soviet Union once again threatened extinction, a group of American wildlife biologists led by Maurice Hornocker joined with their Russian counterparts in founding the Siberian Tiger Project to study and protect this besieged race.

Peter Matthiessen journeyed to the Russian Far Fast and other remaining tiger territory to witness for himself the species' present condition and to understand its possible fates. Bringing to his subject his deep knowledge and the instinct for the natural world that have made classics of his previous books, he allows us to participate in the battle for the future of one of the earth's most awesome creatures. Along the way, he tells the story of the species' origin and evolution, evoking as well its crucial, often totemic role in the cultures and mythologies of the peoples who came in contact with it. He has made of the tiger's dilemma not a manifesto but a drama - underscoredby Hornocker's stirring photographs - that conveys powerfully what a loss to our collective imagination the disappearance of these great cats would be.


Indigenous to Asia, and once widely distributed across the continent, the tiger is yet another of the world's creatures to come perilously close to extinction in the last century. Where a hundred years ago the population of Panthera tigris and its cousins stood at more than 100,000, a 1995 census put the total at less than 5,000. And, writes Peter Matthiessen, a longtime student and champion of endangered wildlife, "most biologists and conservationists ... would set that number even lower."

Working with the noted wildlife biologist and photographer Maurice Hornocker, Matthiessen recounts his travels into the Russian Far East and Manchuria in search of one of the rarest of the big cats, Panthera tigris altaica, the Siberian tiger. Once shielded, and not by design, by Communist policies that restricted travel in and development of its wilderness habitat, the Siberian tiger is increasingly threatened throughout much of its range as the dense old-growth forests of the Pacific seaboard fall to Japanese logging companies; at the same time, the tiger is still hunted for parts used by Chinese apothecaries (drinking the essence of a tiger is thought to bring renewed sexual vigor to aging men). Matthiessen, whose text brims with a righteous rage on the tiger's behalf, is able to report a few success stories, as Russian, Chinese, and American biologists work to conserve habitat in the wild country memorialized by V.K. Arseniev's Dersu the Trapper, a memoir that informs Matthiessen's own book. But his book is also full of tragedy, of terrible stories that help press a case for why the Siberian tiger should be protected everywhere in its domain.

Matching a thoughtful, well-crafted text with remarkable photographs of tigers in the wild, this is a book that, with luck, will help spur renewed interest in making the world safe for wildlife of all kinds. --Gregory McNamee

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