Elephant Company

ElephantCompany_Bestseller-3“This book is about far more than just the war, or even elephants. This is the story of friendship, loyalty and breathtaking bravery that transcends species… A sweeping tale, masterfully written”

–Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
in The New York Times Book Review

The remarkable story of James Howard “Billy” Williams and his bond with the elephants of Burma. In 1920, Williams took a job in the teak business, drawn by the lure of working with the world’s largest land animals. It was love at first sight.

1st clan of elephants

Impressed with their intelligence, courage, kindness, and humor, he believed that just living with them made him a better man. He worked to cure their ills and he fought for their humane care. Over time, Williams’s uncanny rapport with the elephants transformed him from a carefree young man into the charismatic war hero known as Elephant Bill.

Vicki talks with John Harwood on NPR’s On Point:

Elephant Company is also a tale of war and daring. When Imperial Japanese forces invaded Burma in 1942, Williams joined the elite Force 136, the British dirty tricks department, operating behind enemy lines. His war elephants would carry supplies, build bridges, and transport the sick and elderly over treacherous mountain terrain.

Tuskers in Burma

Though smaller than African elephants, the tuskers in Burma could stand nine feet at the shoulder. To Williams they were every bit as magnificent as he had hoped.

Now well versed in the ways of the jungle, an older, wiser Williams even added to his stable by smuggling more elephants out of Japanese-held territory. As the occupying authorities put a price on his head, Williams and his elephants faced his most perilous test. In a Hollywood-worthy climax, Elephant Company, cornered by the enemy, attempted a desperate escape: a risky trek over the mountainous border to India, with a bedraggled group of refugees in tow. Elephant Bill’s exploits would earn him top military honors and the praise of famed Field Marshal Sir William Slim.

Part biography, part war epic, and part wildlife adventure, Elephant Company is an inspirational narrative that illuminates a little-known chapter in the annals of wartime heroism.
“Elephant Company is as powerful and big-hearted as the animals of its title. Billy Williams is an extraordinary character, a real-life reverse Tarzan raised in civilization who finds wisdom and his true self living among jungle beasts. Vicki Constantine Croke delivers an exciting tale of this elephant-whisperer-cum-war-hero, while beautifully reminding us of the enduring bonds between animals and humans.”
—Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La and Frozen in Time

“The true-life heroics of Elephant Company during World War II highlight how animals and humans together can achieve extraordinary things. Croke’s evocative writing and deep understanding
of the animal-human bond bring vividly to life Elephant Bill’s great passion and almost mystical connection with his magnificent beasts. This is wonderful read.”
—Elizabeth Letts, author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion

“A spellbinding, true story of elephantine and human courage, set in one of the Earth’s most exotic jungles during the Second World War, Elephant Company is a triumph that will make you cheer!
—Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig and Journey of the Pink Dolphins


The Lady and the Panda

The true adventures of the first American explorer to bring back China’s most exotic animal.

The Lady and the PandaPraised by the New York Times, People magazine, Entertainment Weekly, “Good Morning America,” The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Vogue magazine, and many others.

The astonishing true story of Ruth Harkness, the Manhattan bohemian socialite who, against all but impossible odds, trekked to Tibet in 1936 to capture the most mysterious animal of the day: the giant panda.

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Traveling across some of the toughest terrain in the world -the voyage cost Ruth everything she had. When she returned from her journey with a baby panda named Su Lin in her arms, the story became an international sensation.

But that was just the beginning of the story. Transformed by the experience, she spent the rest of her life fighting for panda conservation. It would take environmentalists 70 years to catch up with her ideas. Today the World Wildlife Fund Celebrates her as a hero.

Part Myrna Loy, part Jane Goodall, by turns wisecracking and poetic, practical and spiritual, Ruth Harkness is a trailblazing figure. And her story makes for an unforgettable, deeply moving adventure.



The Modern Ark

The Modern ArkPerhaps the question is so obvious that we seldom ask it: Why zoos?

Wildlife journalist Vicki Croke provides answers in The Modern Ark, a fascinating history of zoos, the animals they house, how they reflect changing attitudes, and what their future may be. Croke traveled widely to conduct prodigious reporting –interviewing humans and spending time with some amazing members of the animal kingdom –and she offers an enlightening look at zoos.

Some of it is funny, some of it’s disturbing. All of it is interesting.

“The Modern Ark is an excellent book. It is very well researched and its pages are alive with vivid anecdotes. Vicki Croke tackles the most controversial problems of zoos with thoughtfulness and integrity. I thoroughly recommend The Modern Ark to all those who think seriously about the future of animals in captivity and their survival in the wild.”

–Dr. Jane Goodall


Animal ER

An enthralling behind-the-scenes look at real veterinary emergencies.

Animal ERThe Foster Hospital for Small Animals —part of the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and one of the most respected animal hospitals in the country —has opened its doors and collaborated on a book that reveals the everyday struggles and dramas at an animal emergency ward. Boston Globe reporter Vicki Croke has gathered the most gripping, fascinating, and triumphant stories of saving animals in times of crisis —from cats and dogs to iguanas and horses.

This journalistic account delivers both heart-pounding action and heart-wrenching tales of loss and recovery —combining split-second medical decisions, cutting edge veterinary medical technology, and the restorative power of the bond between pets and their owners.