Friday, August 23, 2019

No Beast so Fierce by Dane Huckelbridge Review

Title: No Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger: The Deadliest Animal in History
Author: Dane Huckelbridge
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                I was reading an article about a month ago, a book list that challenged readers to get brave by reading the books they recommended, all without leaving the comfort of their own home. I was intrigued by every book that was on that list, but No Beast So Fierce was the book that caught my eye first. Normally, I’m not a big nonfiction reader, but I’ve been recently trying to branch out into new genres. This book was really interesting and informative, though it seems that a lot of the facts seem based on conjecture. Nonetheless, I liked it a lot. It taught me a lot about tigers, which was great. But even more than that, No Beast So Fierce examines the perfect storm that created one of nature’s most notorious maneaters. Though this book is obviously not without bias, I think Huckelbridge did a really good job of tracking the tigress’s movements and explaining just how this wounded but still magnificent creature was driven to hunt, and kill, humans, with the numbers climbing almost up to the triple digits.

                No Beast So Fierce is a naturalist, environmental nonfiction offering, taking place in both India and Nepal. Dane Huckelbridge pieces together its journey from its native Nepal, where it had already killed and eaten several people, and follows it across the border to India, where the tigress lived out the remainder of its life, feasting upon humans when she was unable to catch normal prey. Huckelbridge attempts to lay out the facts as best he can, murky though they are. He uses a lot of primary sources, but a lot of it seemed to be based on his personal conclusions. They were certainly backed up, but something about this didn’t seem to add up to me. Nonetheless, Huckelbridge traveled across Nepal and India to use the information in this book, and I really enjoyed the writing style, even if it didn’t gel with my expectations. I was intrigued; I’ve been fascinated with animal and marine life for as long as I can remember, especially big cats. I learned a lot about tigers, and that’s what I set out to do.  But the story of this particular cat was so compelling, a manmade monster that had to be brought down for the safety of others. Injured by a hunter in the prime of its life, the female tiger eventually had to resort to survive in an altogether different way: hunting humans. People disappeared from the edges of villages and in the woods, gone within moments. It proved to be a frightening and enlightening read, for this mess was all caused by the plights of man, imperialism and colonialism. The tiger was contained within an ever-shrinking habitat, and had injured teeth, had cubs to feed. Really, it was a tragedy all around, to both man and animal. I really enjoyed it, even if there were some parts that seemed unbelievable. It was informative and really made me think. Definitely one of my favorite books of 2019, as well as nonfiction in general. The bottom line: Despite some spotty research, I really enjoyed No Beast so Fierce; it was a nonfiction environmentalist eye-opener, and I learned a lot. Next on deck: Wilder Girls by Rory Power!

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