To the Elephant Graveyard

Hall, Tarquin

Published by Grove Press, 2001
ISBN 10: 0802138357 / ISBN 13: 9780802138354
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Synopsis: On India's northeast frontier, a killer elephant is on the rampage, stalking Assam's paddy fields and murdering dozens of farmers. Local forestry officials, powerless to stop the elephant, call in one of India's last licensed elephant hunters and issue a warrant for the rogue's destruction. Reading about the ensuing hunt in a Delhi newspaper, journalist Tarquin Hall flies to Assam to investigate. To the Elephant Graveyard is the compelling account of the search for a killer elephant in the northeast corner of India, and a vivid portrait of the Khasi tribe, who live intimately with the elephants. Though it seems a world of peaceful coexistence between man and beast, Hall begins to see that the elephants are suffering, having lost their natural habitat to the destruction of the forests and modernization. Hungry, confused, and with little forest left to hide in, herds of elephants are slowly adapting to domestication, but many are resolute and furious. Often spellbinding with excitement, like "a page-turning detective tale" (Publishers Weekly), To the Elephant Graveyard is also intimate and moving, as Hall magnificently takes us on a journey to a place whose ancient ways are fast disappearing with the ever-shrinking forest.

From the Inside Flap: On India's North-East frontier, a killer elephant is on the rampage, stalking Assam's paddy-fields, murdering dozens of farmers, and leaving behind their mutilated, crushed bodies. Local forestry officials, powerless to stop the elephant, call in Dinesh Choudury, one of India's last licensed elephant hunters, and issue a warrant for the rogue's destruction. Reading about the ensuing hunt in a Delhi newspaper, journalist Tarquin Hall flies to Assam to investigate, convinced that no elephant could be guilty of the grisly crimes of which it is accused.

What Hall finds is that the Khasi live intimately with the elephants, riding on their bare backs, caring for them, talking to them, and praying to them. Here, elephants wrap their trunks lovingly around their masters' shoulders, and signposts in villages tell where domesticated elephants should be hitched. Though it seems a world of peaceful coexistence between man and beast, Hall begins to see that the elephants are suffering, having lost their natural habitat. Hungry, confused, and left with very little forest to hide in, herds of elephants are slowly adapting to domestication, but many are resolute and furious.

From intense accounts of the killer rogue to long travels on the backs of the village elephants, a fascinating world unfolds, replete with opulent portraits of the gorgeous emerald green hills, glistening rain forests, and the engaging people of North-East India. But behind the beauty, unimaginable murders are being committed by a crazed drunk rogue. To the Elephant Graveyard is a compelling account of the search for a killer in a region of India rife with insurgency, rich in folklore and superstition, and whose ancient ways are fast disappearing along with the ever-shrinking forest.

"[Hall's] fine storytelling and skill at handling dialogue come through as he pieces together a lively portrait of contemporary Assam, including a considerable amount of elephant fact and lore."--Library Journal

"[T]ravel writing that wonderfully hits on all cylinders...and the narrative tension brought to the tracking of the rogue is exquisitely riveting, climaxing in a movingly sorrowful scene.... [Tarquin's] readers will not regret one vicarious moment spent with the author on this trip."--Booklist

"[A] page-turning detective tale that recounts how the motley group of journalists, mahouts, and government-employed hunters stalked the killer elephants through the wild territory of India."--Publishers Weekly

"The legendary elephants' graveyard...haunts the memory long after one has closed the cover of a wonderful book that should become a classic."--Daily Mail (London)

"Tarquin Hall...introduces us to the darker side of the Asian elephant. It is more of a thriller than a straightforward travel book, and the writing is insightful and sensitive."--Literary Review

"Hall is to be congratulated on writing a book that promises humor and adventure, and delivers both."--The Spectator

Tarquin Hall was born in 1969 and has spent ten years living in parts of America, Africa, and Asia. Most recently he worked in India for three years for the Associated Press. He is also the author of Mercenaries, Missionaries, and Misfits: Adventures of an Under-Age Journalist, written when he was twenty-three.

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Title: To the Elephant Graveyard
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: 2001
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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