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An Enchantment of Elephants

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Like magic tricks and snow, elephants hold a special fascination for us when we’re young (they are big, we are small; they have great memories, we can’t keep track of much), and then shrink in significance as we grow up. This book, An Enchantment of Elephants, is bound to rekindle those pachydermatous yearnings of yore. Vintage paintings, photos, postcards, and author Gwathmey’s gentle text locate our once favorite animal in his many manifestations. And there are numerous revelations along the way: from Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of Hindu mythology, to the elephant as Republican political symbol (the pen-child of late-19th-century caricaturist Thomas Nast); from the short-lived circus giant Jumbo (from whence came that staple of modern marketing, jumbo-size) to countless other examples of these big lugs as circus performers, cartoon-book fodder, advertising logos, ballet dancers, and even college mascot (Tufts University). But if this delightful tome makes images of elephants seem ubiquitous, it also points out that in reality, thanks to the ivory trade, these creatures are quite scarce-a fact that any true elephant enthusiast should never forget. A

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