Thursday, September 19, 2019

"To The Elephant Graveyard" by Tarquin Hall - A Compelling Look At The Mind of A Rogue Elephant and Those Who Hunt Him

I had several reasons for wanting to read "To The Elephant Graveyard." I love elephants, and drink in anything I can learn about them -   especially how they live in their natural habitats. Second, the action of this book - a true story that reads like an adventure novel - takes place in the Northeast India state of Assam. My father spent part of WWII serving the U.S. Army Air Corps in Assam, so that part of the world has always held a certain level of intrigue for me.

I was initially concerned when I learned that journalist Tarquin Hall had written a book telling the story of a legendary elephant hunter. I have a particular disdain for those who hunt endangered species, especially elephants, so I was not sure how I would feel about the hunter who is on center stage of this narrative. I quickly learned that Dinesh Choudhury, the most acclaimed of all of India's elephant hunters, loves and reveres elephants. He only agrees to hunt those who have proven to be a significant danger to villagers. Such was the case of a rogue elephant who had murdered several villagers in remote locations. Author Hall persuaded Mr. Choudhury to take him along on the perilous trek to find and kill the rampaging rogue bull elephant.

The resulting account of their travels and adventures is told in cinematic prose, offering clear descriptions of actions and the motivations that undergirded them. It is a tale of government officials, hunters, mahouts, terrified villagers, and journalists who pit themselves against an elephant who had been driven mad by abuse at the hands of a prior owner. The story includes incidents of near misses, treks through lush forests and jungles, encounters with villagers and farmers, and an introduction into the small world of mahouts - those who train and handle elephants as a life's calling.

The result is a very readable book that has all the earmarks of a classic. Reading it has deepened my appreciation for elephants and those who strive to provide a balance between protecting their shrinking habitats while also protecting those they sometime endanger.



"Meditations of an Army Ranger" by Lt. Col. (Ret.) J.C. Glick and Dr. Alice Atalanta - A Well Written Warrior Philosophy for Everyone

Army Lt. Colonel J.C. Glick (Retired) has teamed up with Dr. Alice Atalanta to offer a pithy handbook that enables those of us who did not serve as special forces soldiers to adopt a Warrior Philosophy. The book is written in a clear and concise voice. Both authors make it clear that a deep understanding of classical philosophy - particularly Stoicism - lays the foundation for the Warrior ethos they describe in this book.

The book is divided into sections, each of which has a Latin title, cementing the feel that the authors are standing on the shoulders of classical thinkers and doers.

Exsuscito (Awaken) explains why philosophy undergirds everything that is to follow inths book.

Cogitare Aliter (Thinking Differently) offers sixteen different ways of thinking and acting to differentiate oneself from the typical herd mentality that is so easy to fall into. These include Motivation vs. Inspiration, Integrity s. Honesty, Discipline vs. Obedience, etc.

Habere et Esse (To Have and To Be)  explores the phenomena of Trust, Resilience, Initiative, and Courage.

Ducatus (Leadership) is a key section that offers practical examples of how the best leaders think, inspire, and motivate those whom they lead.

Electissimi (Elite) explores the nature of Greatness.

Finally, Vade (Go Forth) examines what it means to live a life of Purpose. The concept of Purpose is showing up in almost every book I have read in the past year that purports to address issues of leadership and growth. It is clear to many gifted authors that identifying Purpose and using that Purpose to drive decisions is a paramount ingredient in living a productive and satisfying life. This book is a welcome addition to the growing corpus of literature that addresses this crucial area of living.