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Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest…

Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived (original 1997; edition 1998)

by Ralph Helfer

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6852821,072 (4.05)23
Title:Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived
Authors:Ralph Helfer
Info:Harper Paperbacks (1998), Paperback, 325 pages
Collections:Your library

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Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer (1997)



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"He remembered what his father had told him,'Trees are like people and give the answers to the way of Man. They grow from the top down. Children, like treetops, have flexibility of youth, and sway more than larger adults at the bottom. They are more vulnerable to the elements, and are put to the test of survival by life's strong winds, rain, freezing cold and hot sun. Constantly challenged. As they mature, they journey down the tree, strengthening the family, until they have become big hefty branches. In the stillness below, having weathered the seasons, they now relax in their old age, no longer subject to the stress from above. It's always warmer and more enclosed at the base of a tree. The members remain protected and strong as they bear the weight and give support to the entire tree. They have the endurance.'"
pgs 36-37 ( )
  juliejb9 | Sep 23, 2018 |
The story that is told in this book is an extremely heartfelt one. The book tells about a German boy named Bram who is born at the same time as his elephant Modoc. As they grow up, the two become inseparable and take several journeys together across the world in order to escape Mr. North, the American businessman who purchased the circus that Modoc worked for. When Bram hears the news, he stows away on the ship that Modoc is on to India so the two won’t be parted. The ship is wrecked, and Modoc becomes a big help because survivors are able to float on her back. Help finally comes at the last possible moment and two are rescued and spend time at an elephantarium in India where both of them are treated with great respect. Somehow, Mr. North has been able to track them down and both Bram and Modoc are forced to flee into the Teak Forests to live with nearby villagers. After rebels take the village, Mr. North inexplicably finds them again and transports them to America. The two become stars in America, but Modoc barely survives several dangerous events and is sold without Bram’s knowledge. After ten years of being abused, Bram is miraculously able to locate Modoc, and the two live out the rest of their lives in peace.
Although a fantastic story, there is some doubt in my mind about how true it is. It is claimed to be a true story, but it lacks any verifiable evidence that this really did happen. A story like this would have made noise in the 1900’s. Especially in America during a time when the circus is pretty popular and losing an entire circus is a huge problem. There seems to be no evidence of this occurring and no documents or proof that people with these names even existed. Additionally, people in this story are somehow able to find each other almost magically. During this time period, it seems almost impossible for someone to trace a boy and an elephant in a different continent. Especially since they are hiding away from the public and in these remote places in India. Without the technology that we have today, I do not understand how it was possible to locate Bram and Modoc in such a large country. ( )
  10sterling10 | Nov 8, 2017 |
LOVED the cover. Loved the idea of the book. Unfortunately, the writing didn't bring the story to life for me. And it is quite a story. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer

325 pages


The story of Modoc is definitely an impressive one. Within the elephant’s life she would go through war, shootings, fires, and much more. Such a wild adventure for such a large animal. And I don’t dislike the story, as it is indeed a fascinating one. Is it true? I don’t know. As a big nonfiction reader I live for documents and proof – there’s really none in the book and even in my own research I found very little proof of any of the places or people ever existing. Then again, perhaps the author chose to change the names of people and places because…why not? In the beginning of the book the author even states that some “poetic political license” was used. This is obviously the case in such instances ***spoiler*** as when the elephant is attacked by a drunk man. By the time anyone notices anything the elephant is injured and the man is dead yet the book gives a several page detailed story of what the man said and what went down. Interesting since no one was there to witness it except a dead man and an elephant – neither said a word about it I’m sure.***end spoiler*** I feel this book would have better been advertised as BASED on a true story…yes, that one word can make a huge difference on how I look at it.

At the end the story itself didn’t bother me, I just took it with a grain of salt what was true and was given “poetic license” by the author. The writing bothered me. For some reason the author’s way of writing really got to me. Then again he is known as an animal trainer, not an author. While the man may have heard this fantastic and wonderful story of Modoc and Bram (Modoc’s trainer and friend) from Bram himself, I think the story would have been better written by someone else. Don’t get me started on the author’s need to put exclamation points in practically every paragraph because….exciting!!! I was expecting such wonderful things from this book since so many people I know loved it and I feel snobbish to say that I didn’t like it more. Sorry, Modoc the Greatest Elephant Ever, your story deserved to be better written in my opinion.

( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
Whether true or not, this book enveloped me in a wonderful story that had me doing the ugly cry at the end. I loved it. ( )
  ronnbren | Dec 31, 2014 |
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On a gray, foggy morning they came, rising on the cold north winds from the icy peaks, sweeping across the timberland into the gray, misty valleys of the Black Forest...baby sounds!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060929510, Paperback)

Modoc is the joint biography of a man and an elephant born in a small German circus town on the same day in 1896. Bram was the son of an elephant trainer, Modoc the daughter of his prize performer. The boy and animal grew up devoted to each other. When the Wunderzircus was sold to an American, with no provision to take along the human staff, Bram stowed away on the ship to prevent being separated from his beloved Modoc. A shipwreck off the Indian coast and a sojourn with a maharajah were only the beginning of the pair's incredible adventures. They battled bandits, armed revolutionaries, cruel animal trainers, and greedy circus owners in their quest to stay together. They triumphed against the odds and thrilled American circus audiences with Modoc's dazzling solo performances, only to be torn apart with brutal suddenness, seemingly never to meet again. Hollywood animal trainer Ralph Helfer rescued Modoc from ill-treatment and learned her astonishing story when Bram rediscovered her at Helfer's company. His emotional retelling of this true-life adventure epic will make pulses race and bring tears to readers' eyes. --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:07 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

On a quiet morning in 1896, in a small German circus town, a boy and an elephant were born. The boy was named Bram, the elephant was named Modoc. Bram was the son of a local elephant handler, and even as a child he showed signs of becoming a master handler. Modoc grew impressively beyond anyone's imagination--exceptional intelligence, massive size, and a gentleness surpassing that of even the kindest elephants. The two were raised as siblings, and when news came that the circus was being sold, thirteen-year-old Bram did the only thing he could imagine: he stowed away to be with Modoc.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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