I love true animal stories and this one came highly recommended by one of my reading friends. This story is supposedly true and is about an elephant and a boy who grow up together but some of the adventures truly require a big gulp of suspension of disbelief. I'm thinking the author exagerrated a wee bit to embellish his story but maybe that's just me . . . Despite that, it's a very heartwarming tale about the bond that can develop between man and elephant.
I had some real issues with this book. The writing is sophmoric and the story, although putatively true, is so embellished that it reads as a fable. There are so many factual errors (such as Xray machines in rural India in the 1910's and traveling southeast from Calcutta to reach the Ganges Delta) that I almost abandoned it. Modoc is consistently described as having significant tusks, yet the elephant(s) in the photos are tuskless. The author also never clearly sets the time of the story, which makes the events confusing and hard to place in history. Supposedly Bram & Modoc were born in 1897 and died in the 1970s.
After reading 'Water for Elephants' I was very interested in the care and keeping of elephants. I found this book and once started, could not put it down. I thought it was well written, full of suspense, humor and sweet understanding. So what if it is a 'true' story that has been embellished some, it is a wonderful, heartwarming story -- one you will remember for a long time after turning the final page.
There may be a real story here, but it's one that merits a much shorter treatment. In this book that story is practically undiscoverable, swamped by stilted writing and mystical wanderings. Perhaps the tale is based on real events and people, but the author has strayed far afield from the facts, embroidering and embellishing them into a fiction, and not a very interesting fiction at that.
This is an astounding true story. If you ever wondered about cognition in animals, or even whether animals have souls, this is a story that will have you re-examining all you've been told about animals being "lesser" than humans.
There are some tragic incidents - I literally cried on the train on my morning commute one day, a little embarrassing - but that is how powerful the story is. Animal lovers will find that this is a story that they cannot forget.
This was a very good book - hard to put down. A beautiful example of how amazing the bond between animal and human can be. I would have liked it a bit more if some of the events were documented better, so you could tell what part of Modoc's story is true and what may be somewhat embellished, but read this book for what it it - a wonderful story.
Vicki S. reviewed Modoc : The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived on
This is by far the best book I have ever read. I became so emotionally attached, I cried, I yelled. It draws you in and won't let you go. I can't stop talking about this book or thinking about it. Exceptional writing. Intense reading. Want to share it but won't let my copy go.
Once you get past the inelegant writing and, surely, inflated adventures, the heart of this book is a warm and touching story. Anyone who can love an animal and appreciate the unique bond that can exist between animals and their people can find something to like here. If you are looking for great literature, look elsewhere.
On a scale of one to ten, I rate this book a 10. It is page turner from the start but that is only part of it. It's a true story of love and committment. After reading Water For Elephants, (which I also loved), this is a great followup. I would recommend this book to young and old. It is a book that you don't want it to end.
Mel W. (catmandieu) reviewed Modoc : The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived on
As a work of fiction, this book would be fairly interesting and engaging. However, the author claims that the book is based on a true story. Any cursory investigation of that claim would show that the claim is entirely bogus. You will not be able to find any information about the main character; that's because he doesn't exist. Modoc, as the elephant described in the book, didn't exist either. Her story may have been blending of several elephants by that name who lived and performed in circuses during the 20th century. This book took me in! Don't believe a word of it as you read it, but just enjoy it for the fairy tale that it is.
This was a fantastic book. It read like a novel which was all the more impressive it being a true story! Loved the interwoven lifetimes of the two main characters, man and elephant. I found it hard to put down because I wanted to see where it was heading next in this amazing world traveling story.
Cheryl B. (shiva) reviewed Modoc : The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived on
Two of the most amazing lives I've read about. The human and elephant's lives are so intertwined. There was so much love in their lives, and so many amazing events. It's hard to believe it all took place in one lifetime. I loved this story. I kept having to look at the pictures to think that it could be a real story.
Modoc. The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer is about love and friendship on a grand scale, an elephant-sized scale. Modoc is an elephant who was born into a German circus family. The story seems almost too fantastic to be true. Both Modoc and Bram, the elephant trainer's son, are born on the same day. They grow up together until tragically the circus is sold to a man who decides to uproot the whole show and take it across the world. Bram is heartbroken. He can't leave his friend and decides to stow away on the ship. Off the coast of India, a giant storm sinks the ship with animals and people struggling to grab onto something for dear life. Incredibly, with over dozens of people clinging on to him, Modoc valiantly swims for days until they are rescued. Modoc and Bram form a life in India. After many years they eventually go to America where Modoc becomes a star. At one point there's a fire and Modoc barely makes it. I'm not sure how much of the book was exaggerated for the audience, but it is a captivating read. I got lost in their adventures and the heartwarming bond that kept them together. My niece recommended this book to me and I'm glad I read it. Animal lover or not, it's a book worth checking out. Read other reviews at http://readinginthegarden.blogspot.com