Yours is the kind of book I miss when it’s finished. Billy Williams is an extraordinary character, a real-life reverse Tarzan raised in civilization who finds wisdom and his true self living among jungle beasts. Calves born to domesticated mothers began school at 5 years of age (Williams referred to them as “my babies”), along with the 12-year-old boys who would grow up with them and become their lifelong uzis. And what fascinating facts about elephants Croke unearths. 2 members reading this now 25 clubs reading this now 1 member has read this book. Williams had gained the trust and loyalty of both his elephants and their uzis, and as Croke brings the book to a dramatic climax, his Elephant Company steps up in truly heroic fashion. Last night after reading the very last page, I came here ‘for more’. Use the SEARCH box (title or author) If you don't find a specific guide for a book, take a look at our Discussion Tips & Ideas. Sign up for your FREE email about the latest top book club picks, exclusive book giveaways, new releases, and online author events. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS is a book that can be read and reread, recommended and handed off between friends; it begs to be discussed and mulled over. . The friendship of one magnificent tusker in particular, Bandoola, would be revelatory. © 2003 - 2017 BookMovement, LLC. On arriving at camp, he was shown a row of elephants and told, “Those four on the right are yours, and God help you if you can’t look after them.” Williams had no idea what that entailed. Shortly after Williams returned from World War I, a chance meeting and the mere mention of elephants were all it took for the animal lover to apply for a job as an elephant wallah with the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation. [Read Book] Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped. He was a keenly observant fellow, who fell in love with the social rituals of elephants, the bonds between mothers and offspring, their intricate vocabulary of subsonic rumblings, squeaks, and grunts, and the ways they expressed emotions. “Billy” Williams was fascinated by the subtlety and strength of elephants’ complex social bonds. In total, he wrote five memoirs. It contained a treasure trove of archival materials — diary excerpts, unpublished manuscripts, movie treatments, handwritten essays and notes — a find Croke refers to as the “El Dorado of Elephant Bill Files.” Armed with this incredible, unexpected resource, Croke paints a rich and intimate portrait of a fascinating man living in extraordinary circumstances, and the even more extraordinary people — and elephants — surrounding him. In the jungles of Burma, during the days of the British Empire, Asian elephants were the animal equivalents of all-terrain vehicles. . Standing over 9 feet tall in some cases and weighing several tons, these beasts were marvels of nature — massive and intimidating, but also gentle and intuitive. I have to confess — my love of elephants made me apprehensive to review a book about their role in World War II. J.H. His war elephants would carry supplies, build bridges, and transport the sick and elderly over treacherous mountain terrain. But the British Army had a secret weapon that made all the difference in this remote front with its vast mountain ranges, dense foliage, and formidable water barriers. . Williams, however, took to the isolated, nomadic existence of the forest manager, traveling hundreds of miles on his rounds. The moment Williams met Bandoola, a famous tusker used for dragging logs, he believed that destiny had brought them together. But Elephant Company is also a tale of war and daring. “Elephant Company” is nothing less than a sweeping tale, masterfully written. Content includes books from bestselling, midlist and debut authors. All of his skills were needed on a dangerous trek across the India-Burma frontier in 1944 that required a steep climb over a nearly impassable cliff face. Join the leading website for book clubs with over 35,000 clubs and 20,000 reading guides. The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild Lawrence Anthony (with Graham Spence), 2009 St. Martin's Press 384 pp. Perhaps none was more captivating than Bandoola, an impressive tusker (male bull), who Williams revered. Blending biography, history, and wildlife biology, [Vicki Constantine] Croke’s story is an often moving account of [Billy] Williams, who earned the sobriquet ‘Elephant Bill,’ and his unusual bond with the largest land mammals on earth.”—The Boston Globe   “Some of the biggest heroes of World War II were even bigger than you thought. An animal lover, Williams came to Burma with little knowledge of elephant behavior; by the time he left, he was a world-renowned expert. Published: 2014-07-15 Hardcover : 368 pages. Their probing trunks and finely calibrated sense of smell — five times more potent than a bloodhound’s — gave them almost uncanny powers of awareness. Croke also vividly portrays the absurd extremes of life in a British colony, where the jungle — with its tropical diseases, leeches, poisonous snakes and insects, vegetation capable of slicing flesh and causing blindness upon contact, hookworms that burrowed through ankles, and “a maddeningly itchy and pernicious” fungus hidden in the mud — existed cheek by jowl with the company compounds, polo matches and luxurious homes. I also laughed and cried. Elephant Company is nothing less than a sweeping tale, masterfully written.”—Sara Gruen, The New York Times Book Review“Splendid . He had spent decades working as a forest manager in the logging business. Distinctive and distinguished, Bandoola was loyal, but possessed of a unique personality. Be the first to rate this book! And remember to check out our other book resources: Popular Books — our list of the top book club reads Book Reviews — for great book club ideas . Their trunks contain more than 60 muscles, but not a single bone. Unlike most company wives, Susan stayed by her husband’s side as he traversed the jungle. ISBN-13: 9781250007810 Summary When South … Vicki Constantine Croke delivers an exciting tale of this elephant whisperer–cum–war hero, while beautifully reminding us of the enduring bonds between animals and humans.”—Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La and Frozen in Time. Author interviews, book reviews and lively book commentary are found here. Big, sturdy creatures, they could carry massive loads and traverse tough jungles. . Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II . His vast knowledge of roads, waterways, railways, and jungle paths made him indispensable to British forces. The uzi used positive conditioning, rewarding Bandoola’s good behavior with sweet treats. His wife, Susan, also wrote one, and it would seem that this story has already been amply recorded, but Vicki Constantine Croke, a veteran animal writer and author of books including “The Lady and the Panda,” revisits it, digs deeper and finds “the traces that were unpublished, unknown, private.” How she achieved this is a tale in itself — she visited Williams’s son, Treve, who lives in Tasmania, and arrived to find that he’d laid out a small suitcase of clippings and correspondence. This is the story of friendship, loyalty and breathtaking bravery that transcends species. His name was J.H. (I have also read elsewhere that Bandoola once went to town in a pineapple grove, ate 900 fruits, and contracted acute colic, but Croke does not report this further bit of indigestion.) Williams suspected Po Toke of the crime, believing that the handler had killed Bandoola “out of a deranged attachment to the great animal.” Po Toke, coming to the end of his working days, could not give up his beloved charge. It was a lucrative business that contributed to the Empire’s riches, one that took its toll on European recruits, who had to contend with malaria and other tropical maladies. Part biography, part war epic, and part wildlife adventure, Elephant Company is an inspirational narrative that illuminates a little-known chapter in the annals of wartime heroism.Praise for Elephant Company  “This book is about far more than just the war, or even elephants. They have six sets of teeth throughout their lives that move into place “not from underneath, but as if moved forward along on a slow conveyor belt,” and once they’ve used up their sixth set, they starve to death. He also learned from them, following their complex social rituals, distilling them into a code of behavior he would draw on in the most perilous of circumstances. When Imperial Japanese forces invaded Burma in 1942, Williams joined the elite Force 136, the British dirty tricks department, operating behind enemy lines. At one camp, the newlywed Susan was alarmed by a strange odor rising from their bed. He can be reached at Such dramatic moments recall the celebrations of human resilience in other World War II-themed books like “Unbroken”; yet Croke’s culminating passages lack the depth and authority of the beautifully rendered early sections of “Elephant Company.”, Williams survived the war; Bandoola, alas, did not. He said he had “a feeling of understanding him as a fellow-creature closer than many human beings” (and as Croke points out, they were “classmates,” born in the same month and year, and at 23, were “beginning their adult lives in the jungle”). Our “unlikely hero” is Lt. Col. James Howard Williams, known as Elephant Bill, a dashing, athletic man with a deep attachment to animals of all kinds, and an uncanny ability to communicate with them. What he also didn’t know was that the solution was headed right toward him, in the form of a magnificent bull elephant on the cusp of his prime years. I did, my nightly treat for many nights. . She describes the various stages of musth, the mysterious hormonal tsunami that overwhelms male elephants for a period that can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. “learned more about life from elephants than I ever did from human beings.”. Noncompliance was punishable by death. You may never call the lion the king of the jungle again.”—New York Post“Elephant Company is as powerful and big-hearted as the animals of its title. By sundown, class was dismissed and the babies reunited with their mothers, “having been stuffed with hundreds of bananas.”. As the book opens, Williams, an English World War I veteran, is just arriving in Burma in the 1920s to work in the Bombay Burmah Trading Corp.’s teak-harvesting operations. Mesmerized by the intelligence, character, and even humor of the great animals who hauled logs through the remote jungles, he became a gifted “elephant wallah.” Increasingly skilled at treating their illnesses and injuries, he also championed more humane treatment for them, even establishing an elephant “school” and “hospital.” In return, he said, the elephants made him a better man. Recommended to book clubs by 0 of 0 members. Their sense of smell is five times that of a bloodhound. After a short confinement in a pen greased with pig fat to protect the young elephants’ skin, the curriculum was all about bribery. He was also an elephant whisperer of sorts, who understood them on an intuitive level, working them strenuously, yes, but also tending to their every need. It was the sight of thick scars around one elephant’s ankles that led Williams to discover how wild elephants were trapped and “broken.” The process was known as “kheddaring,” a horrifying ordeal that lasted however long it took to instill terror, destroy an elephant’s spirit and guarantee absolute compliance. But as soon as I began to read “Elephant Company,” I realized that not only was my heart safe, but that this book is about far more than just the war, or even elephants. But back to elephants. Bandoola was the only elephant recorded in the company ledgers as having no training scars, and, upon further investigation, Williams learned that the elephant had been born in captivity, and that when he turned 5, his uzi, or caretaker, decided to try a “gentling” instead of “breaking” process. Report. Undeterred, he set out to learn everything he could about elephants, “to find some common ground, some way of seeing the world through their eyes rather than through my own.” There was a mystical side to Williams; he described feeling an exchange of communication when he touched an elephant’s skin.

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