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Elephas Maximus

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  26 ratings  ·  4 reviews

Revered in Indian religion and culture, coveted for its ivory tusks, the majestic Asian elephant has captured the fascination of humans for more than four thousand years. In an effort to shed light on this regal animal and its unique relationship with humankind, author Stephen Alter traveled around the world to explore its natural home and its place in history and myth.


Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 3rd 2004 by Harcourt Books, Inc (first published 2004)
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Though this is at times slow and ponderous (like an elephant!), it's a well-rounded history of elephants in India, a travelogue including items from literature, religion, myth, culture, war, celebration, and so on. The few photos used are good ones (to open each chapter), but this would have benefitted from more photos, since so much of India is described in ways that make a reader feel like you have to see it to really appreciate it. I learned quite a bit more about elephants from this book, an ...more
I wish the author wrote a bit more about elephants in biological and behavioural terms. There was a little too much info about Asian elephants and how it tied into Indian culture and history for my liking. But, you read this, and other information about elephants, and you get even more disgusted seeing them perform no more than demeaning tricks in circuses for the entertainment value of the ignorant masses, bullied and abused into unnatural behaviour.
I read this book having just returned from a trip to India which was focused on elephants. I wish I had read this before I went. It's a well balanced book focusing on the importance of the elephant in Indian society, mythology and history as well as the plight of the species in the wild.
Kim Stallwood
The subtitle says it all: A Portrait of the Indian Elephant. And that's exactly what this book is. A gentle introduction to Indian elephants and their history and status in present day India.
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STEPHEN ALTER is the son of American missionaries to the Himalayas, and was raised in India. The author of seven books for adults, he is the former Writer-in-Residence at MIT, and a recipient of a Fulbright grant. He currently lives in India with his wife, where he is researching his newest book for adults—a behind the scenes look at the world of Bollywood.
More about Stephen Alter...
Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief: Inside the World of Indian Moviemaking Ghost Letters The Phantom Isles Amritsar to Lahore: A Journey Across the India-Pakistan Border Sacred Waters: A Pilgrimage up the Ganges River to the Source of Hindu Culture

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