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Meat Eater

Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter
Written by: Steven Rinella
Narrated by: Jeffrey Kafer
Length: 6 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“Revelatory.... With every chapter, you get a history lesson, a hunting lesson, a nature lesson and a cooking lesson.... Meat Eater offers an overabundance to savor.” (The New York Times Book Review)

Steven Rinella grew up in Twin Lake, Michigan, the son of a hunter who taught his three sons to love the natural world the way he did. As a child, Rinella devoured stories of the American wilderness, especially the exploits of his hero, Daniel Boone. He began fishing at the age of three and shot his first squirrel at eight and his first deer at 13. He chose the colleges he went to by their proximity to good hunting ground, and he experimented with living solely off wild meat. As an adult, he feeds his family from the food he hunts. 

Meat Eater chronicles Rinella’s lifelong relationship with nature and hunting through the lens of 10 hunts, beginning when he was an aspiring mountain man at age 10 and ending as a 37-year-old Brooklyn father who hunts in the remotest corners of North America. He tells of having a struggling career as a fur trapper just as fur prices were falling; of a dalliance with catch-and-release steelhead fishing; of canoeing in the Missouri Breaks in search of mule deer just as the Missouri River was freezing up one November; and of hunting the elusive Dall sheep in the glaciated mountains of Alaska. 

Through each story, Rinella grapples with themes such as the role of the hunter in shaping America, the vanishing frontier, the ethics of killing, the allure of hunting trophies, the responsibilities that human predators have to their prey, and the disappearance of the hunter himself as Americans lose their connection with the way their food finds its way to their tables. Hunting, he argues, is intimately connected with our humanity; assuming responsibility for acquiring the meat that we eat, rather than entrusting it to proxy executioners, processors, packagers, and distributors, is one of the most respectful and exhilarating things a meat eater can do. 

A thrilling storyteller with boundless interesting facts and historical information about the land, the natural world, and the history of hunting, Rinella also includes after each chapter a section of “Tasting Notes” that draws from his 30-plus years of eating and cooking wild game, both at home and over a campfire. In Meat Eater, he paints a loving portrait of a way of life that is part of who we are as humans and as Americans. 

“Full of empathy and intelligence.... In some sections of the book, the author’s prose is so engrossing, so riveting, that it matches, punch for punch, the best sports writing.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“Rinella’s writing is unerringly smart, direct, and sharply detailed.” (The Boston Globe

“A unique and valuable alternate view of where our food comes from.” (Anthony Bourdain)

©2012 Steven Rinella (P)2020 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“Truth be told, I have lived a life plenty comfortable with my disdain toward hunters and hunting. And then along comes Steven Rinella and his revelatory memoir Meat Eater to ruin everything. Unless you count the eternal pursuit of the unmetered parking space, I am not a hunter. I am, however, on a constant quest for good writing. Meat Eater begins with a promise - 'This book has a hell of a lot going for it, simply because it’s a hunting story' - and then delivers ceaselessly, like a Domino’s guy with O.C.D. This is survival of the most literate. Graphic, sure, but less so than an episode of CSI, and with more believable emoting...this - genuine passion, humbly conveyed - is when nonfiction slaughters fiction and hangs it over its mantel. The text is relentlessly vivid and clear...the commitment, effort and ardor are unflinching. With every chapter, you get a history lesson, a hunting lesson, a nature lesson and a cooking lesson, and most of the chapters end with 'tasting notes' on various game.... Readers will never ask themselves, 'What is he talking about?' ...[A]gain and again, his descriptive powers trump gruesomeness…. Meat Eater offers an overabundance to savor.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Relentlessly descriptive and endlessly evocative ‘tasting guides’ at the close of each chapter help armchair hunters get a sense of what it might be like digging into their own heaping plate of camp meat, deer hearts or sun-dried jerky...the writing is steadfastly satisfying and clear. The author wisely allows philosophical questions pertaining to the validity of hunting and the efficacy of state-enforced regulations to simmer in the background, and he effectively shows nature in all its glory.... An insider’s look at hunting that devotees and nonparticipants alike should find fascinating.” (Kirkus)

“On one level, [Rinella has] penned an entertaining collection of the sort of anecdotes that, if you had the good luck to meet him at a Brooklyn hipster’s cocktail party, would be conversational gold. Though animals figure almost as prominently in his narrative as people, Rinella is an astute observer, with an eye for delightfully telling details.... But in Meat Eater, Rinella does more than tell stories well and share exotic cooking tips. He writes from the standpoint of a married writer and father living in one of the world’s more densely populated metropolises. His book sets up an implicit contrast between city and wilderness, semi-settled midlife and a more footloose young manhood.” (Paste)

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What listeners say about Meat Eater

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an humble and interesting story

im not even done the audio book yet but i love it! Rinella does a great job at telling stories from which you can learn a lot from. he also tell those story in a humble and honest way which i find was great since you don't have the impression the book was created to make him stand out as the ultimate hunter, but more like a guy that made sometimes bad choices and eventually learned from it. all in all a great audio book and i can't wait to finish it off. highly recommend it.

just sad it is not Rinella himself narrating the book.

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Great book as always by Steve

This is a great book that sums up the feelings all hunters have yet Steve has the ability to put these feeling into eloquently written words. A great book as always

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great writing

another great book from Steve rinella. it is kind of weird to hear his writing in someone else's voice. When reading paper copies of his other books I narrate them in my head in his voice almost instinctively but after a couple chapters it didn't bother me

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  • Nathan
  • 2020-06-09

Why can’t Steve read his own books?

I’m completely bummed. I love every work Steve has done and was looking forward to this book. Pre ordered with my one credit for this month.

But they got some fucking tranquilized math professor to read it, which means I can’t stand to listen. Seriously, this guy sounds like a suburban yoga instructor on heroine. Super bummed because it’s putting me right to sleep.

Just let somebody who gives a shit about the book read it...like maybe the author.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Omid Boostani
  • 2020-06-09

Steve you should have self narrated

Would have been ten times better hearing you tell your story yourself. Other than that story was great keep doing what you do!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jerry Quick
  • 2020-07-03

Good book

I Wished Steven would have narrated himself as he had done in his previous book

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jeremy and Lauren
  • 2020-07-18

Well worth the wait

I have been waiting for this book to be on here for quite some time. It was well worth it. If you like his show, you'll love this book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • supplementslinger
  • 2020-08-05

I love everything Steve Rinella does!

Really enjoyed this. Found the stories from his childhood, and the stories about his Dad and brothers particularly... moving? honest? I'm not sure. they were my favorite parts of the book though. maybe it was because I found myself wondering about the differences from my own childhood. I do hope he begins work on a proper memoir with as much of his early life and formative experiences as he can remember. release it in 20 years if you want Steve, I'll wait. if I had one critique is that the tasting notes don't always line up with the stories. Doesn't really matter, it just tickled an OCD reflex once or twice. the book is great, Mr. Rinella has an easy, almost conversational narrative style that is intriguing and relaxing at the same time. I also highly recommend his book American Buffalo. (But be sure to get the one read by Mr Rinella himself) P.S. I took one star from the performance because the reader didn't know how to pronounce "javelina"

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  • Daniel Guffey
  • 2020-07-23

I love Steve, but....

I think Steve is a great guy. He has the most unique hunting television show ever produced. I agree with his mindset and philosophy as a hunter. His how to books are excellent. But this book was hard to get through.

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  • Seegs
  • 2020-07-16

Rinella is awesome

I loved hearing these stories from a true sportsman. You can tell that he has a true respect for game and it’s pursuit. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of not narrating his book...AGAIN. His last book, “American Buffalo,” was originally narrated so poorly, that Steve re-do the audio version himself. This book is no different. It’s obvious that the narrator has never spent any time in the woods and mispronounces things several times, which really through me off. Not to say that I wouldn’t recommend this title. These stories are so fun and interesting to listen to, it makes you wish you’d run into him and the bar so he can keep telling them over a few beers. Hopefully, eventually, he’ll re-do this book in himself. I’d definitely re-purchase if that was the case.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-07-16

Excellent book by a great outdoor writer!

This is an excellent book talking about a lot of stories of Steven Rinella’s youth that many outdoorsman can relate to.

The only problem is I don’t think the reader has ever hunted or been outdoors before. This book needs to be redone and read by Steven Rinella himself.

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  • James Andrew Sorenson
  • 2020-07-10

A great book!

This, like everything else Rinella writes, was a great book. I enjoyed it immensely, although I do have to say that it would have been all the better if the author had recorded himself with his unique accent and tone.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-07-07

sensational

great time to get closer to ice berg and I hope you have a similar experience