Monday, January 13, 2014

Flight By Elephant: The Untold Story of World War Two's Most Daring Jungle Rescue by Andrew Martin

This a non-fiction account of a group of people who got cut off by the Japanese and took a very dangerous route through the mountains and rivers to a "safe" area.  The problem was that no place was safe, it was monsoon season, and there wasn't enough food to go around.  The biggest problem was that the route they were taking had been removed from the evacuation list as being too dangerous, but they never got the message.  So there was no rescue mission, just a plane flying over every now and then.

Fourth Estate and Edelweiss allowed me to download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It will be published January 28th, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

The only thing that was in the evacuee's favor was the fact that the white men living in that area were explorers and adventurers who didn't mind taking a risk.  There were several types of locals that knew the land, the river conditions, and could handle the elephants.  That help was priceless, too.  It was still an ugly journey with near starvation and much sickness from malaria, leeches, and more.

I would like to officially go on record here and say you would never see me walking through a jungle like that.  NEVER!  If the plane crashed and I had to walk out, maybe, but I'd be screaming all the way. The land was so wet their boots rotted off their feet.  You could get about five kinds of malaria.  And the leeches were even crawling across the ground.  No way, folks.

It was a good thing they had a first kit with them.  They also didn't leave people behind, they carried them.  Waiting for someone to rescue them was the worst part.  The elephants helped them get the men across the raging river but, in the end, they had to rescue themselves.

This was some story.  It's based on the various journals the men kept.  They were bored, in poor health, and had plenty of time to think.  Each man looked at the journey in a different way.  By tying the stories together, you feel like you've been along with them.  As long as I can sit in my armchair and read about it, fine.  I have no urge to visit the site in person.

These were brave men.  Some lived long lives, some died sooner from the diseases they'd been stricken with in the journey.  But all deserve to be recognized and admired.  And the elephants deserve a pet, too.

Happy reading.

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