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Africa's Elephant

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  74 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Yet elephant history has been dominated by periods of brutality and persecution, used in gladiatorial combat, as weapons of war (most notably by Hannibal) and for their ivory, prized since ancient times as a symbol of wealth and status. As the ivory trade continued there are now only five countries with sizeable elephant populations, where a few hundred years ago there wer ...more
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published September 6th 2001 by Hodder & Stoughton
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This book really ought to have been titled, "Elephant History". Beginning before Alexander the Great and his elephant army, it covers the slaughtering of elephants, mostly in the name of ivory, from centuries ago to the current age (ending in 2001). There are many anecdotes and accounts from travelers and researchers of all kinds. However, only within the last few chapters does it really discuss the wonders of elephant life (and these are very much worth reading even if you skip the rest).

For an
Jeffrey Williams
Very few books cover the entirety of a subject like Martin Meredith's "Elephant Destiny." He does an admirable job covering the history of the elephant from ancient times to the late 1990s. The book really covers three important sections - history, science, public policy. The history section covers the period of the ancient world through the 1960s. Science covers the arrival of various scientists into Africa beginning in the 1960s through the 1990s and their discoveries in breeding, family, trav ...more
Elephants are truly one of the most amazing creatures on the planet. They can communicate over long distances. They rejoice at reunions. They mourn their dead. They're even right or left tusked, as we're right or left handed.

Yet, since the days of Egyptian pharaohs, they have been slaughtered for their ivory. Martin Meredith takes the reader back through time to when artists craved ivory for its pliability and Kings, including Alexander the Great, sought elephants to use in battles. He details
Tim Martin
_Elephant Destiny_ by Martin Meredith is a well-written and fast-reading account of the human and natural history of the African elephant. Roughly two-thirds of the book is an account of human interaction with this species, what impact it has had on art, culture, and its uses in human warfare, its role in providing an impetus to the exploration of Africa and most importantly of all the ivory trade. The other third provides interesting information on its biology, particularly its behavior and int ...more
Lauren Rev
This book provided an overview of human/African elephant history which is largely a documentation of the many ways elephants & their products, i.e. ivory, have been exploited. A very sad look at a magnificent creature juxtaposed with the greed of another. There were a few chapters on elephant biology which made you admire even more these great animals. The book touched on many interesting points, however, more detail would have been appreciated. In fact, I felt like I was reading a book writ ...more
Aug 16, 2009 Caitlin rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any one who loves elephants.
Shelves: 2009-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Learnt a lot about elephants in history from this book, about Punt and Zanj, Sahel and Hanko, Jumbo and Babar, about the Cape of Death and the Heart of Darkness. A book written in a simple, straightforward, and journalistic style, this is well worth a read by those interested in elephants. There is more sweep to the stories than depth, but the book nevertheless has enough details on the lives of elephants, on how elephants have been exploited for ivory, and how our view of elephants has been cha ...more
A great book for those who love elephants or want to know more about elephants. Although the start of the book was hard to read because I love elephants and it talked a lot about how they were hunted and killed, the book does get better as it goes into more about elephants and their lives.
Jan 11, 2008 Amy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: animal lovers
Made me love elephants! Tells the history of the ivory trade and how horrendous it could be, as well as how beautiful ivory was. In everything it told both sides: elephant nature, elephant history, mythology about elephants...quite a captivating read
John Butt
very little about elephants. maybe 40 pages. mainly about exploration and ivory. a bit ironic that someone decrying the belittling of elephants to their tusks basically does that in this book.
Jenifer Perry
A really sweet book. It made me want to learn more about elephants and although it did have some facts and history, I don't think this is a definitive source on elephants.
A lot is very difficult to read because the author describes how elephants have been massacred for their ivory (and sometimes meat) for hundreds of years.
This is a slim popular history, but it's a good entry to the subject elephants and the ivory trade.
For a perfect review of this book read Tra-kay's summary. I have nothing orginal to add.
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Martin Meredith is a historian, journalist and biographer, and author of many acclaimed books on Africa.

Meredith first worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa for the Observer and Sunday Times, then as a research fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford. Residing near Oxford, he is now an independent commentator and author.

Meredith’s writing has been described as authoritative and well-documented
More about Martin Meredith...

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