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To the Elephant Graveyard

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  261 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
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For the journalist Tarquin Hall, elephants evoke images of Babar and Dumbo-kindly, lovable creatures. So when he hears of a drunken elephant on the rampage, stalking human prey with serial killer precision, he's more than a bit skeptical. Picking himself up from his dusty Delhi cubby, Hall heads off to Assam, a sparsely populate
Hardcover, 266 pages
Published April 13th 2000 by John Murray (first published 2000)
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Sep 18, 2009 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have very little interest in India and even less in elephants; but this book got such rave reviews on Goodreads that I decided to give it a try. The official blurb is quite accurate, so I won't repeat it. What is surprising and refreshing here is the novelist's detail--the sights, sounds, smells, textures of India, along with wonderful characterizations done mostly through skillful dialogue. There is no doubt throughout what is ultimately going to happen, but Hall strings it out with side adve ...more
This is an unusual book. A British journalist joins an elephant team in northeast India (Assam) as they hunt down a rogue elephant who has killed almost 40 people. The killings seem premeditated, cruel, and grisly. Could an elephant really be responsible for this type of crime? The author initially believes that there is something corrupt about this, that perhaps this is an excuse for trigger happy hunters to indulge in a blood sport or some such reason. He does indeed find corruption, but it is ...more
Sep 15, 2012 Ravinder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lib
I picked up the book from the library without knowing what it would be like to read. Boy, was I surprised.

Tarquin writes very well not only on the main topic of the book - the hunt for the rouge elephant, but shares some other insights into the history of North-East India - be it the bravery of the forest guards at Kaziranga, or what the Bodo movement was really about, the Central Government's continued and possibly deliberate lack of interest in developing the region, the history of Kohima and
Aug 23, 2015 Vaidya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It starts off on the wrong foot, in fact on a lot of wrong feet. There are sentences which go:
Bihar is a state in eastern India notorious for its lawlessness, caste wars and dacoits, who regularly hold up trains at gunpoint.
Most of the descriptions are meant to shock and awe a Western audience, even to the point of describing auto-rickshaw rides and having natives do "jigs" whenever they are excited.

But where it scores is that it stays true to the actual quest - that of an elephant hunt, where a
Feb 26, 2014 Piyali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No less than a real life suspense thriller, this one. A psychological one at that. The serial killer is a rogue tusker, who primarily targets drunken men and kills them brutally. What are his reasons for this violence? Find out with elephant expert, elephant lover, and occasional hunter Dinesh Choudhury and author Tarquin Hall. Also meet adorable, endearing characters like Churchill, Chander and other mahouts, who have dedicated their lives to love and care for elephants. Learn about dedicated f ...more
Kendra Schaefer
Meh. If you don't frequently read travel books, or if you don't travel, this is probably more like a 3- or 4-star read, but this was such a typical Asia travelogue that I found myself incredibly bored. Amazement at quirky societal differences? Check. Intrepid spur-of-the-moment exploration in rural community? Check. Romanticized villagers? Check. Wondering about the "mysteries of the East"? Yup, that too. Nothing wrong with the writing, the writing's fine, I just personally didn't find anything ...more
Jan 16, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is worthy of 5 stars, an unusual event. Takes place in Assam, India - an area we will be visiting in February, about which rather little is written. The author, a journalist based in Delhi, follows a "rogue" elephant that must be killed as it has killed many villagers. The man chosen to hunt down the elephant is a renowned elephant expert who is extremely reluctant to kill any elephant and, after agreeing to the job, carefully researches the activities, behavior and history of this par ...more
Sep 25, 2015 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting and entertaining book. I had read three of the author's Vish Puri detective novels and love them and so I was interested in this book. I was able to find it at Thriftbooks. The story concerns the author's trip to Assam when he read that a rogue elephant was to be put down by a professional hunter who had killed other rogues. He assumed that the elephant couldn't possibly be guilty of the grisly crimes he was assumed to be guilty of and that there had to be a better way ...more
Jul 08, 2015 Toffana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A modern-day elephant hunt in India. A mad bull elephant rages through the NE corner of India, leaving a path of death and destruction. A journalist joins the team assigned to end the tusker's rampage. Aside from the hunter and journalist, there are government wildlife officials, an annoying photographer, heavily armed guards to fend off local resistance fighters, and two Khasi mahouts and their elephants. Along the way, the narrator meets villagers, anti-poaching patrols, monks, and wealthy pla ...more
Jan 26, 2014 mbattist rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-india
Found Tarquin Hall with his Vishnu Puri series and couldn't wait to read To the Elephant Graveyard. A rogue elephant is wreaking havoc on Northern India villages and killing people. Once named rogue, an elephant will be hunted and killed by a licensed elephant hunter.

It's hard to imagine that journalist Tarquin Hall is able to participate in the hunt, and so curious to read how he establishes relationships with the elephant hunter, the elephants that carry the troupe and the mahouts that manage
I'd wanted to know who Tarquin Hall was, when I went looking for this book. He'd recently written A Case of the Missing Servant, which I thought was curious, since it appeared to have been written, not by a Asian native, but by a Britisher. Hall wrote ...Elephant when he was 23, and that is impressive enough, I guess. He did an okay job--though I am vastly interested in elephants, I put this down several times. Hall's habit of injecting himself into the narrative was less endearing than tiresome ...more
Richard Thompson
Hall is working as a newspaper reporter in Delhi when he reads a story about a rogue elephant on a rampage in Assam in the northeastern corner of India. He travels to Assam and wangles an invitation to go along on the hunt for the animal. His sympathies lie more with the elephant (even though the rogue has reportedly already killed more than thirty people) than with the hunter, and he suspects that the real story that he is looking for will turn out to be about corruption and greed than with pub ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Ed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very readable, and on a topic I not only knew nothing about but didn't even know existed. Hall engages you immediately and makes a strong and moving case while telling a good story with colorful characters in a complicated political and social environment.

However, it is definitely an extended work of journalism and not a book-book, that is to say, the writing is lackluster and at times a little amateurish. I wonder, though, would it have been better had it been written more artfully? Hard to say
Jane Mackay
Dec 24, 2014 Jane Mackay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Add Tarquin Hall to my list of favourite/favorite authors. I devoured (verb chosen deliberately ;-) ) all four books in the Vish Puri series and am saving SALAAM BRICK LANE for a treat one day.
Jan 31, 2011 Jolene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the author's firsthand account of a hunt for a rogue elephant in Northeast India, after nearly 40 people are deliberately killed by the animal. In many ways, this book reads like a good novel and keeps the reader captivated throughout the author's many interesting encounters with both humans and elephants in this part of the world. When the story further develops, however, it is clear that the murderous behavior of the rogue elephant is part of a much bigger, far-reaching, and poten ...more
Jan 24, 2015 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really well done--I've been wanting to read this one for a long time, and I'm so glad I did--not because it's uplifting, but because I learned a lot.
Jul 31, 2009 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tough to read in spots, but a fascinating picture of North India. This is an area not hospitable to foreign travelers due to ongoing insurgencies, but the country is beautiful, the people unique and the elephants struggling to survive in a changing habitat. Love the elephants; even hard not to root for the rogue. Tarquin Hall is a fabulous writer, brave as a barrel full of bears. He is currently writing mysteries set in India and his first offering is my favorite mystery of the year. He has live ...more
Susan Oleksiw
Oct 06, 2013 Susan Oleksiw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting travel report of the author's journey with a licensed elephant hunter to track down and kill a rogue elephant responsible for killing up to five people in Assam. There's a lot of information about elephants and elephant lore and traditions, as well as the changes from modernization that are creating havoc and misery in the more isolated areas of the state. I have changed the rating on this book because it seemed to me far more accurate than some of the other reports I' ...more
Feb 19, 2012 Lizzy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book I would normally choose to read. However I 'met' Tarquin through Vish Puri, an Indian detective. I was liking it most maximum. ;) Tarquin is an excellent author so I looked for other books by him and found this one. Being I'm also fascinated by the Indian culture, I thought this might be a good read.

It was a spellbinding account of a hunt for a rogue elephant flavored with Indian culture and history of Assam. What a journey, one that stays with you and leaves you wanting to jo
Oct 06, 2009 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When this arrived in my interlibrary loan pile at the library, I almost sent it back unread. It looked dreary. It isn't. It's fantastic, an entertaining and fast moving account of a hunt in the (fast disappearing) jungles of India for a rogue elephant that has to be destroyed. At moments I felt like the author was manufacturing situations so they would be both entertaining AND informative; but ... this book IS both entertaining and informative. And the end, when they find the rogue elephant at l ...more
Dec 14, 2008 Lesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book- it is written by a journalist who tags along with an elephant hunter(who also loves elephants and hates to kill them) who has been hired to go after a rogue elephant in Assam. So cool to read about such a remote part of India, with hilarious stories. Also, I learned some really great things about elephants!
Ann Tracy
I loved this book... but it could be better. Enjoyed the narrator's travels in helping hunt down a rouge elephant. Even felt I learned much about Asian elephants and India. But about 1/2 way or 3/4 of the way through, I needed it either shorter or more development in the characters. Regardless, recommend it!
Nov 22, 2011 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My personal basis for the five-star rating is that I would read the book again. Since this is my second time reading this book, I had to give it the full five. He is a very good writer and I did enjoy this book very much. I learned a lot about elephants and Africa--a good combination.
Minakshi Ramji
Aug 09, 2013 Minakshi Ramji rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A most excellent holiday read. This is ostensibly true story about a hunt for a rogue elephant in north eastern Assam, but ends up becoming a a story about that most incredible of animals -elephants, mahouts, the shrinking forest covers, and of course, an amazing Indian travel story!
Jul 12, 2010 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd read a lot about elephants in Africa, but it was interesting to read about them in India, where people work with them closely. Very tragic how their numbers are declining with habitat encroachment. Lots of endearing elephant stories. They are really so smart...
Jul 01, 2009 Caryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoy reading abougt exotic places then you should read this book. It takes place in North East India and is about a hunt for a rogue elephant. It is a true story and is a real page turner. It is hard to imagine people living like this in modern times,
Jun 16, 2012 Doel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brief visit into the very complicated situation that the asian elephant faces in India today, the grief and dilemma of people who live around elephant corridors and the mountainous task that the authorities face to control and solve the situation.
This is an interesting and engaging book that provides insight into the nature of wild and domesticated elephants in India. The author also provides a sympathetic introduction to the region and people of North Eastern India.
Denise Tarasuk
Nov 04, 2013 Denise Tarasuk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read! Tarquin Hall brings us to Assam in a tense situation, a wild elephant is on the loose. You can feel the anxiety in the villages. An important book that takes us behind the scenes.

Apr 14, 2013 Sharla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gives you a greater appreciation for the sensitivity of elephants. Beautiful animals. Always enjoy reading about India. It's such a vast country with so many unique ethnicities, languages, foods...
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Tarquin Hall is a British author and journalist who has lived and worked throughout South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He is the author of The Case of the Missing Servant, dozens of articles, and three works of non-fiction, including the highly acclaimed Salaam Brick Lane, an account of a year spent above a Bangladeshi sweat shop in London’s notorious East End. He is married to Indian-born jo ...more
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