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Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived Paperback – August 26, 1998
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
What disappoints me about this book is that it claims to be a true story, when it is indeed mostly fiction. There are only tiny bits of fact in there, and those facts are mostly exaggerated. Things that started tipping me off:
1. The author describes most of the Indian elephants (aka Asian elephants) as having tusks. In reality, tusks on Asian elephants are pretty uncommon.
2. The author describes Modoc as having tusks, even to the end of the book soon before she died. Yet in the pictures in the book, the elephant shown has no tusks at all.
3. A circus owner on the hunt for *years* in a foreign country all for one elephant? I doubt that seriously.
4. No dates are given, and for being a work of "fact", I found it odd that no sources are ever listed except for very vague comments (i.e. saying that newspapers wrote articles, but never naming any specific paper)
5. Most information cannot be found except in reference to this particular book.
6. There is an act of a bull's mating with a cow (bull=male elephant, cow=female elephant) that seems way over the top and incredibly ferocious, quite unlike actual mating "rituals" among elephants.
After some extensive research, including research with the Circus Historical Society, I discovered that many elephants were named Modoc, the most famous being "Big Modoc" owned by the Ringling Bros Circus.Read more ›
And as a true story -- I was spellbound. Why, this elephant had more character than most humans I know!
But that was when I thought it was a true story. If I had thought Modoc was a fictional account I would have been less enchanted. It would be a nice tale, but not well written enough to warrant my enchantment.
In doing my own research after the reading I came up with several sites and people who doubt Helfer's veracity. Moreover, I could find only one (audio) interview in which Helfer talks about the book -- but it's not with an interviewer who had ever read it! So no questions were asked about how much truth there was in this literally "fabulous" tale.
I'm afraid I have to say -- after reading people's blogs and comments and noticing discrepancies myself now that I don't think the story is true. I think it's a collage of Modoc stories and pictures (it turns out there were three elephants named Modoc in U.S. circus history.)
Helfer even says in the beginning that he takes truth, hearsay and a dash of some of this and thatand then combines it all to make his story. He even says he stretches the truth -- but we want to believe it so much -- we take it all as gospel.
So my recommend is -- until Helfer has a serious interview about the facts in Modoc -- unlikely since he spends most of his time in Africa -- that you read this book as fiction -- in which case, I'm sad to say, it's okay. Not great. Okay.
And now I know why there was such a commotion about A Million Little Pieces -- James Frey's book. When it's true the reader's heartstrings are tugged in a different way. Really "true" life is still what amazes us most. It makes a difference.
My main problem with the story is that dates are only given maybe two or three times. We're not even told what year it is when the story begins. That makes it really hard to keep track of how old the two main characters are over the years and through their many adventures. And where are all of the important world events going on during this time, particularly WWI (which we only see a little of towards the end of their stay in Burma, when the liberation army comes to their village and terrorises everyone) and WWII? Don't they have any impact on the lives of these characters and the events they're taking part in? Also, a lot is made of Mr. North's "racial attitudes," but the only thing Jewish about Bram that I saw in the book is his last name.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I also questioned the "truthiness" of this story as I read it. But, I must say, the author succeeded in telling an interesting story about the love between an elephant and... Read morePublished 18 hours ago by Christie Dubuisson
a wonderful story. so touching to the heart. i would recommend this book to everyone. loved it.Published 1 day ago by Susan da Costa-Scheer
Description needs to stress that despite the cover, this is not a wholly true story.Published 4 days ago by D. Schneider
Top 5 books I've ever read!! Recommend it to all my friends!Published 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
The book is an incredible story, and so well written. One just cannot help loving Mo and Bram. I'm so sorry it is over.Published 14 days ago by chelle
Modoc will haunt me forever and i will always keep the book near me. What a courageous loving elephant, may she live in our hearts for a lifetime. It would make a great movie.Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
Mo is an amazing elephant. This book is based on her true story--a story of love, bravery, and connection. Don't miss Modoc!Published 1 month ago by Betty Holling
After reading the book and finding numerous glaring failures with times, places, and names, I did some simple on-line research. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mountain Mama