How has the tiger come by its sorry endangered status, and what are its odds for survival? These are the questions posed and answered in this evenhanded, at times abrasive, account from an environmental journalist. Meacham opens by going for the jugular with the pronouncement that the ``tiger is in no danger of extinction.'' They breed like bunnies, even in captive settings. But there is the rub: With the combined effects of poaching and habitat loss, perhaps the only tigers to remain in the future will be in captive settings. ``Their survival as a life-form does not depend upon the survival of their habitat. Only their wildness does.'' That wildness is very important to Meacham, so he goes about considering the avenues open to protect the big cat from a life behind bars: Issues of genetic diversity and conservation biology are plumbed, as are artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization and the threats posed by traditional Chinese medicine and its fondness for powdered tiger bone and tiger penis soup. He probes the notions of animal rights and welfare; the work of preservationists (protecting tigers from humans) and conservationists (protecting them for humans); the problems of use value and nonuse value; the heavy moral baggage that comes with tiger farming (he presents a convincing argument that this will not diminish poaching) and hunting. Meacham's suggestions for ways to allow a remnant tiger population to persist in the wild aren't particularly inspired: Protect habitat, gather raw data, learn if reintroduction works, generate international support, find the political will. And his rock throwing at various friends of the tiger will get him nothing but a sour reputation--though his heart is in the right place.