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Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II Hardcover – July 15, 2014
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“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
“Elephant Company is as powerful and big-hearted as the animals of its title. 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. 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
“The true-life heroics of Elephant Company during World War II highlight how animals and humans together can achieve extraordinary things. Croke’s evocative writing and deep understanding of the animal-human bond bring vividly to life Elephant Bill’s great passion and almost mystical connection with his magnificent beasts. This is a wonderful read.”—Elizabeth Letts, author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion
“A spellbinding, true story of elephantine and human courage, set in one of the Earth’s most exotic jungles during the Second World War, Elephant Company is a triumph that will make you cheer!”—Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig and Journey of the Pink Dolphins
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Williams had an innate love for the Burmese elephants and they loved him back. Whereas the traditional training of elephants had tended to be unkind or even brutal, Elephant Bill revolutionized their care. He treated the animals with kindness and respect, and even started elephant training schools so they could gradually learn the skills they needed, instead of breaking their spirits to bring them into submission.
Williams’ knowledge of elephants assumed dramatic importance during World War II when Burma was invaded by Japan. The Japanese would have captured the Burmese elephants to build roads and bridges for their advancing army. Williams, however, was able to employ his skills and experience to help the British Army and the Allies retain the valuable animals for their own military needs.
The historic long trek of the elephants with fleeing British refugees, over incredibly difficult terrain into India, was breathtaking. Author Vicki Constantine Croke has done a remarkable job of finding original materials about J.H. Williams and his family, and especially about his work in WWII.
I highly recommend “Elephant Company,” which I read in a Kindle version.
This is such a charming story! I'm usually not a reader of "charming stories" and the military history aspect of the book initially triggered the purchase. Actually, there's very little military history and absolutely no combat in the book. Having said that, I am glad I bought it and it really is an excellent read.
James Howard "Billy" Williams entered Burma at what would be the end of the colonial era in which Great Britain ruled large patches of the globe. In Burma, Williams becomes an employee of the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation and is immediately in contact with elephants and the experience affects him greatly. For a man who loves animals, working with these intelligent giants is a fascination and a joy. Williams becomes a "wallah" - an elephant expert who can treat elephant injuries, direct their work and comes to understand their thinking together with his Burmese workers. It's a window into a long-gone world and how British lived in the colonies.
The book chronicles his adventures with the elephants, his Burmese workers, falling in love and marrying, being involved in the Allied war effort in the CBI (China-Burma-India) theater. Although his elephants did good work building bridges and leading refugees to India, barely escaping the clutches of the brutal Japanese, "Elephant Bill's" elephants were not vital or even important. But, it adds to the story itself.
This is a tale of the jungle, of a man's joy in the wilds and among animals who always had the best interests of his elephants at heart.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Incredibly amazing biography! I learned so much about an elephants character! What an amazing man, Elephant Bill!!!!Published 21 hours ago by Happy Girl
Some of the incidents seemed a little unbelievable to me especially the elephant ones. It was a interesting story.Published 1 day ago by yarnpig
I loved the first part of this book, especially all the info about elephants. It was not as interesting once he married. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
Although the subject is an unusual one for a page-turner, this book really grips you, particularly in the final section. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Andrew D. Oram
This was an enlightening read, about WWII. About some of the unsung heros during the warPublished 3 days ago by Jerry MacDonald
Gripping and inspiring story that left me turning pages into the night.Published 8 days ago by janice hofmann
If you like animals, Tarzan, or true stories of WW11 you will like this book. Very interesting. A true life Tarzan, without the swinging vines, who was a hero during WW11. Read morePublished 9 days ago by bratdogmom