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Elephant Company

Elephant Company
The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II

by Vicki Croke

  • Publisher : Random House
  • Release : 2014-07-15
  • Pages : 368
  • ISBN : 0679603999
  • Language : En, Es, Fr & De
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK The remarkable story of James Howard “Billy” Williams, whose uncanny rapport with the world’s largest land animals transformed him from a carefree young man into the charismatic war hero known as Elephant Bill In 1920, Billy Williams came to colonial Burma as a “forest man” for a British teak company. Mesmerized by the intelligence and character of the great animals who hauled logs through the jungle, he became a gifted “elephant wallah.” In Elephant Company, Vicki Constantine Croke chronicles Williams’s growing love for elephants as the animals provide him lessons in courage, trust, and gratitude. Elephant Company is also a tale of war and daring. When Japanese forces invaded Burma in 1942, Williams joined the elite British Force 136 and operated behind enemy lines. His war elephants carried supplies, helped build bridges, and transported the sick and elderly over treacherous mountain terrain. As the occupying authorities put a price on his head, Williams and his elephants faced their most perilous test. Elephant Company, cornered by the enemy, attempted a desperate escape: a risky trek over the mountainous border to India, with a bedraggled group of refugees in tow. Part biography, part war epic, 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. This is the story of friendship, loyalty and breathtaking bravery that transcends species. . . . Elephant Company is nothing less than a sweeping tale, masterfully written.”—Sara Gruen, The New York Times Book Review “Splendid . . . 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. . . . You may never call the lion the king of the jungle again.”—New York Post “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

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Twenty stories, by such writers as Italo Calvino, Maxine Kumin, and Ethan Canin, look at human interactions with wild animals, such as elephants and deer, and semi-domesticated creatures, including gerbils and cows.

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It's 1942--the middle of World War II--and Elephant Bill, his Elephant Company, and a group of refugees are in danger of being captured by the invading Japanese. They must flee their work camp in Burma as soon as possible to keep ahead of the enemy. Bandoola, Elephant Bill's favorite elephant leads the way. On their way to safety in India, they face many dangers on their journey through the jungle and across five mountain ranges. Will Bandoola and Elephant Bill lead them to safety? Or will they be captured by the enemy?

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