Synopses & Reviews
In the two hundred years since their arrival in America, elephants have worked on farms, mills, mines, and railroads, in Hollywood, and in professional baseball. They've contributed to the national discourse on civil rights, immigration, politics, and capitalism. They became so deeply ingrained in the American way that they were once accorded the rights of American citizenship, including the right to vote and the right to provide testimony under oath—and they have incurred brutal punishments when convicted of human crimes.
In Behemoth, Ronald B. Tobias has written the first comprehensive history of the elephant in America. As tragic as it is comic, this enthralling chronicle traces this animal's indelible footprint on American culture.
"Documentarian and professor of filmmaking Tobias traces the history of the captive elephant in the U.S. and its development as a symbol of a young rebellious nation. He includes examples of late-19th-century political cartoons by Thomas Nast that established the elephant as a symbol of the Republican Party, resulting in the 1911 race between an actual donkey and an elephant from New York to Washington, D.C., to represent the presidential race of Wilson vs. Taft. He tells the often-tragic stories of elephants in the glory days of the circus. Jumbo, procured from England by P.T. Barnum with much controversy, was killed by a train. Barnum then toured with Jumbo's 'widow' for two seasons before she perished in a fire. Topsy was famously electrocuted by Thomas Edison after a lifetime of abuse and mistreatment. And Big Mary, famous for 'playing baseball,' was hanged by a railroad crane for killing her incompetent trainer. Finally, Tobias looks at the more recent treatment of elephants, at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and the Los Angeles Zoo. This book is a vital history lesson on the myriad ways elephants have permeated American culture, from Taft to Dumbo; readers should be advised, however, that it includes graphic depictions of animal cruelty." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Ronald B. Tobias is a professor of science and natural history filmmaking in the School of Film and Photography at Montana State University. He was a producer for the Discovery Channel for fifteen years and has produced, written, and directed more than thirty natural history films, many of which have appeared on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.