Hardback
November 30, 2021
9781421442594
English
272
92218
45
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
0.96 Inches (US)
$40.00 USD, £29.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
November 30, 2021
9781421442600
9781421442594
English
272
92218
45
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$40.00 USD, £29.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Elephant Trails

A History of Animals and Cultures

From prehistoric cave drawings in Europe and ancient rock art in Africa and India to burning pyres of confiscated tusks, our thoughts about elephants tell a story of human history. In Elephant Trails, Nigel Rothfels argues that, over millennia, we have made elephants into both monsters and miracles as ways to understand them but also as ways to understand ourselves.

Drawing on a broad range of sources, including municipal documents, zoo records, museum collections, and encounters with people who have lived with elephants, Rothfels seeks out the origins of our contemporary ideas about an animal that has been central to so much of human thought. He explains how notions that have been associated with elephants for centuries—that they are exceptionally wise, deeply emotional, and have a special understanding of death; that they never forget, are beloved of the gods, and suffer unusually in captivity; and even that they are afraid of mice—all tell part of the story of these amazing beings.

Rothfels effectively and engagingly puts himself in the story in several places. Exploring the history of a skull in a museum, a photograph of an elephant walking through the American South in the early twentieth century, the debate about the quality of life of a famous elephant in a zoo, and the accounts of elephant hunters, he demonstrates that elephants are not what we think they are—and they never have been. Elephant Trails is a compelling portrait of what the author terms "our elephant."

About the Author

Nigel Rothfels (MILWAUKEE, WI) is a professor of history and the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He is the author of Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo and the editor of Representing Animals.

Endorsements

"Why do we think about elephants the way we do? Nigel Rothfels burrows deep into this question, exploring elephants both real and imagined across a sweep of places and narratives, from stately museums and wild thickets to lurid circuses. In the process, Rothfels becomes part of the story as he puzzles over the meaning and mystery of one of nature's most sublime and misunderstood species. The result is that rarest of beasts in the scholarship on animals and society: a page turner."

- Ben A. Minteer, Arizona State University, author of The Fall of the Wild: Extinction, De-Extinction, and the Ethics of Conservation

"This is a beautiful book, lucid, elegant, and poignant. It is as wise and gentle and enduring as (our fantasies impose on) elephants. Like the blind men in the Buddhist fable that opens the book, we feel Rothfels's unknowable elephantine subject from various directions and—in so doing—the subject becomes unfamiliar and we learn to understand it (and ourselves) afresh. A monumental work."

- Sandra Swart, Stellenbosch University, author of Riding High: Horses, Humans and History in South Africa
Johns Hopkins University Press
Animals, History, Culture
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9781421442594 : elephant-trails-rothfels
Hardback
November 30, 2021
$40.00 USD
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Electronic book text
November 30, 2021
$40.00 USD

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