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To the Elephant Graveyard

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  325 Ratings  ·  55 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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I would never have come across this book weren't it for Sunetra, a Biblio friend who suggested it as a weekend read.
I have read a couple of mysteries by Tarquin Hall and relished them, but never knew that he is actually a journalist who has written non fiction too.

The book deals with the subject of Indian elephants who are on the brink of extinction, and how the author took part in the search and killing of a rogue elephant who was terrorising Assamese farmers.
While the author, the forest author
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life is infinitely stranger than anything the mind of man could invent

The book is nonfiction writing at it's best!

When the British journalist, Tarquin Hall, sees a news bite on the hunt of a killer Elephant, he joins in for the ringside view.

The account starts with suspicion of foul play given the gentle nature of the magnificent beasts. Joining the Elephant loving hunter Mr.Choudhary and the Elephant squad - Mahouts with their kunkis (domesticated elephants) , the team chases the trail of the
Gorab Jain
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gorab by: Sunetra
They say an elephant never forgets. What they don't tell you is, you never forget an elephant.
- Bill Murray

This is an exceptional read - intimate and moving! The trail of hunting a rogue elephant captured beautifully by Tarquin Hall as a news reporter. Reads like a fiction, and feels like you are living among the elephant squad, absorbing the Assamese culture via related experience.
Highly recommended.

"Elephants are continually being compared to man in favourable terms. This is supposed to be som
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Iniya by: sunetra
Absolutely loved reading this one... !!
DNF. An overpowering wave of laziness and indifference washed me away from this book.
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 18, 2009 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
Aug 14, 2015 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
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lib, paperback
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
Feb 20, 2014 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
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review: To The Elephant Graveyard by Tarquin Hall.

The story is interesting, educating, and fascinating. The author gives a great deal of information on the elephants in India. He starts out relating how mankind misuses and overdevelops a great part of the land that once inhabited the great Asian elephant. As a British journalist he heard of a large angry elephant was being hunted down because the elephant was going into small villages and at that time he had already killed twenty-eight people. T
Noella  Van Looy
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
De schrijver, een journalist van beroep, neemt ons mee naar Assam, een gebied in India. Er loopt een gevaarlijke olifant rond, die al verscheidene mensen gedood heeft. Tarquin slaagt erin om toestemming te krijgen om zich aan te sluiten bij de aangestelde olifantenjager en zijn team. Hoewel de olifant moet gedood worden, blijkt toch dat deze mensen veel respect hebben voor het dier en tot op het laatste toe hopen dat het dier tot rede kan gebracht worden, of ten minste zich terugtrekt in het res ...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
Jared Pechacek
Would you like to read a fascinating book about the complex relationship between modern India and the elephants it both reveres and persecutes, about elephant psychology, and about the tricky politics of the Himalayan region? Look elsewhere.
Maybe I'm being unfair here, because I did genuinely enjoy parts of To The Elephant Graveyard. Some of it is a travelogue of the Indian state of Assam, with visits to tea plantations, monasteries, and temples. Some of it plays out almost like a police procedu
Deepak G
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Thompson
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best1013
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
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
Jan 16, 2014 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 20, 2009 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
Rogue Reader
Jan 26, 2014 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
Jul 01, 2015 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 29, 2011 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
May 16, 2009 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
Sep 22, 2015 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
Susan Oleksiw
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Chris Leuchtenburg
Tarquin Hall's Vish Puri detective novels were so enjoyable and filled with the scents of India, that I decided to try this memoir. Although I enjoyed the digressions that once again provided intriguing glimpses of India's diverse cultures, the narrative seems a little thin. It leans a bit too heavily on side stories rather than the hunt for the elephant or even elephants in general. It seems like it could have been written as a long magazine article without losing much. Still, I did find it ple ...more
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Sep 23, 2009 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
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!
Dec 14, 2008 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!
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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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