The Great Elephant Escape by Antoinette Van De Water

Title: Title: The Great Elephant Escape
Author: Antoinette Van De Water and Liesbeth Sluiter
Genre: Memoir
Source: Library
Set in: Thailand
Challenge: East and SouthEast Asia
Rating: 4 out of 5

My thoughts:
I had very low expectations from this book but it ended up surprising me. The Great Elephant Escape  is about a German woman Antoinette who volunteered in an Elephant Park in Thailand and ended up organizing a ‘Bring the Elephant home’ campaign. Antoinette loved elephants and empathized with their situation in Thailand. She wanted to do more than volunteer and that’s when she came up with the project. The book  chronicles her and her teams journey through Thailand with the rescued Elephants. The goal of the project was to make people aware of the plight of the elephants.

Today Elephants in Thailand are mainly used for begging and tourism purposes. There are Elephant shows, Elephant rides and the works. But there are also elephants that work in the logging industry. Violent measures are usually used to train them and they are often not treated well. With deforestation, the elephant owners have little to feed their elephants, so they have to resort to take them to the cities to beg or use them in the logging industry.

Antoinette begins her project by raising money which seems a lot more difficult than she imagined. A lot of things that could go wrong did go wrong during the planning of this project. But as the project progressed there was also a lot of support and awareness created about the Elephants and their plight. The author takes you through Thailand with her and lets you experience the frustration of dealing with the Thai bureaucracy, the sorrow of seeing the plight of these majestic animals and the happiness of finally doing something for them.

The writing if not very literary is good enough to pull you into the book without any distractions. Antoinette seems like a genuine person who poured her heart and soul into this project. I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in memoirs or Elephants.

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East and SouthEast Asia books list!!!

It seems the more you look, the more you find. So before the list gets out of control, I will post it here. If you are joining the East and SouthEast Asia Challenge and don’t know what books to read, refer to this list. I guess it also will be helpful to those who are not joining the Challenge but are still interested in books set in this region.

There are tons of books available on China and Japan. Also Vietnam if you count all those War books, but the rest are not that easily available. Let me know if you have any additions or have read any books from the list. There are around 300 books in the list, so I had to hide the rest of the post and create page links. If you want to use the page links you will have to open the entire post by clicking on more or by clicking on the post title. Some of the descriptions are mine, some from GoodReads, some from amazon. So if you find the descriptions too flowery or over the top, take them with a pinch of salt.


Indonesia | Taiwan | Malaysia | Hongkong | Thailand | China | Burma (Myanmar) | Vietnam | Laos | Singapore | Japan | Korea: (North and South) | Mongolia | Philippines | East Timor ( I will add any missing countries later if any) HongKong is not really a country but for the sake of reading, I’ve kept it that way.

SouthEast Asia ( Just because these books don’t seem to be based in any one country)
One Crowded Hour by Tim Bowden
Lands of Charm and Cruelty : Travels in Southeast Asia
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Street without Joy: The French Debacle in Indochina by Bernard B. Fall: Originally published in 1961, this book offered a warning about what American forces would face in the jungles of Southeast Asia; a war fought without fronts against a mobile enemy. This book describes the brutality of the Indochina War, in which French forces suffered a staggering defeat at the hands of Communist-led Vietnamese nationalists.
A Dragon Apparent by Norman Lewis: a poignant description of Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam in 1950, with all their beauty, gentleness, grandeur and intricate political balance intact – Restores this lost world, like a phoenix, from the ashes of the Vietnam war and its aftermath – shows the Vietnamese guerilla movement in its infancy, ranged against the French colonial powers, and the early affects of imported Western materialism – a best-seller when first published, and venerated by all the Saigon-based war correspondents in the ’70s – inspired Graham Greene to go to Vietnam and write The Quiet American

Books I’ve read with the review links
The Travel Writer by Simone Lazaroo
The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam (Combodia)
Wild Swans
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
The last Empress by Anchee Min
No More Tomorrows by Schapelle Corby with Kathryn Bonella (Indonesia)
The Long Road Home by Kim Yong (North Korea)
More Than a Memory-Reflections of Vietnam (Vietnam)
Beyond The Comfort Zone by James M Turner (Thailand)
Geisha: A life by Mineko Iwasaki
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (Sorry not reviewed but an awesome book)

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