One Book One Island 2017

Elephant Company - coverElephant Company
by Vicki Constantine Croke

Elephant Company tells the remarkable story of Lt. Col. James Howard Williams, also known as Elephant Bill, a British veteran of both world wars, who became famous during the Japanese occupation of Myanmar, known then as Burma, when his company of elephants helped refugees traverse perilous jungle terrain and bring much needed supplies.

Williams’ relationship with elephants began in the 1920s when he joined the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation as a forest manager and elephant wallah. An avid animal lover from a young age, Williams’ was struck by the elephant’s strength and intelligence. After a serendipitous encounter with an elephant raised by a gentler handler, Williams developed a more humane approach that stressed a symbiotic relationship.

Video: Baby elephant Kham La and her human Derrick

Free copies of the book are available at:

  • Annye’s Whole Foods
  • Nantucket Atheneum
  • Nantucket Historical Association
  • Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror
  • Salt Marsh Senior Center

Elephant Company Discussion Questions

  1. What new information did you learn about WWII?
  2. What did you learn about elephants?
  3. What did you learn about the culture of Burma/Myanmar?
  4. Describe a specific passage that struck you as significant.

Return your book to:
NHA and receive a free museum pass
Atheneum and get your fines waived

There will be a week of free related events from March 10- March 19.

About The Author

Vicki Constantine Croke has been writing about wildlife for more than two decades. Her work has received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award and a PRNDI (Public Radio News Directors) Award.  She currently, she covers animal issues for NPR’s national news magazine show Here&Now, as well as online for WBUR’s The Wild Life.

She is the author of  “Elephant Company,” “The Lady and the Panda: The True Adventures of the First American Explorer to Bring Back China’s Most Exotic Animal,”  and “The Modern Ark: The Story of Zoos—Past, Present and Future.”

Vicki has worked on nature documentaries for Disney and for the A&E channel and anchored The Secret Life of Animals on NECN-TV.  She wrote The Boston Globe’s “Animal Beat” column for thirteen years, and has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The London Sunday Telegraph, Time, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, Gourmet, National Wildlife, and Discover magazine.

About One Book One Island

One Book One Island is a collaborative project of community partners and sponsors that seeks to promote reading, literacy and community by encouraging everyone on Nantucket to read, discuss and reflect upon the same book.

One Book One Island 2017 is made possible by a special grant from the  Tupancy-Harris Foundation and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  And, by  the generous support of:

* Founding sponsors

Please consider supporting the One Book One Island Program. A $100 gift provides 10 additional free books for the community.

To donate, or for more information, please contact Molly Anderson, Nantucket Atheneum, 508-228-1110

One Book One Island Selections

The Kiterunner (Hosseini)
The Breadwinner (Ellis)
The Librarian of Basra (Winter)

 The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway)
The Young Man and the Sea (Philbrick)
Island Boy (Cooney)

American Chica (Arana)
Seedfolks (Fleischman)
Abuela (Dorros)

Coal Black Horse (Olmstead)

 The Postmistress (Blake)

The Maltese Falcon (Hammett)

The Red Garden (Hoffman)

To Kill A Mockingbird (Lee)

Enrique’s Journey (Nazario)

The Invention of Wings (Monk Kidd)