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To the Elephant Graveyard

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  239 ratings  ·  39 reviews
On India's northeast frontier, a killer elephant is on the rampage, stalking Assam's paddy fields and murdering dozens of farmers. Local forestry officials, powerless to stop the elephant, call in one of India's last licensed elephant hunters and issue a warrant for the rogue's destruction. Reading about the ensuing hunt in a Delhi newspaper, journalist Tarquin Hall flies ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 6th 2001 by Grove Press (first published 2000)
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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
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
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
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
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
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
Ashland Mystery Oregon
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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!
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...
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,
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
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.

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...
Genine Franklin-Clark

If you're a sap for animal stories, as I am, and enjoy reading about exotic locales, as I do, this is a good book for you. Warning: the end, although certainly expected, was heartbreaking.
Gaurav Chaturvedi
Its a good story.
The thing i liked about this book was the actual story . Very captivating, I finished it in 2 days, which is totally unlike me, because i tend to keep my pace to a book a fortnight.
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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
More about Tarquin Hall...
The Case of the Missing Servant (Vish Puri, #1) The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing (Vish Puri, #2) The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken (Vish Puri, #3) The Case of the Love Commandos Salaam Brick Lane: A Year in the New East End

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