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Come Back Alive...

Come Back Alive isn't exactly a book that inspires you to dive into the delights of traveling. Robert Young Pelton is best known for his previous book, The World's Most Dangerous Places, and has survived numerous calamities--from car wrecks and a plane crash to killer bees. That he has indeed come back alive does initially lend credence to his advice--which includes what to eat in the bush, which animals are most deadly, and how to avoid being kidnapped.

Pelton's survival tips and facts range from the obvious (if thirsty in the desert, look for greenery) and the interesting (deer send some 16,000 humans to the hospital annually by causing auto accidents), to the patently absurd. While he may be most helpful when writing about nature, Pelton--a worldwide traveler--comes off as colorfully clueless when he heads out to urban destinations. While advising travelers to travel lightly, he recommends loading oneself onto a plane thusly: "Use a soft, legal-sized carryon bag. Wear a larger than normal waist pack with heavy items, use a correspondent's vest to stuff in other heavy items, clothes, and fragiles. Carry a second laptop bag ... filled with reading material, CD player, whatever...."

Not only does this sound like an Olympic feat, it also contradicts his advice not to look like a tourist. As for how to surreptitiously conceal cash, Pelton recommends rolling it up in straws. That's right, straws. Certainly original, but the presence of numerous straws in a suitcase seems a likely way to ensure your luggage is ripped apart for cocaine. If carrying it on your person, what does one do to dislodge a bill from the straw, toot it at the cashier?

Nevertheless, with its charts (of average miles walked by a lost person), quizzes (are you a leader?), and occasionally insightful information, Come Back Alive is a remarkable journey through Danger Land (a.k.a. the modern world), and one that is sure to help enliven any cocktail party with its informational icebreakers. "I'm reading the oddest book," you might begin, "which recommends carrying money in straws...." --Melissa Rossi -- source: amazon.com


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Fielding's The World's Most Dangerous Places

"The World's Most Dangerous Places is not a comforting book; its pages bristle with tales of land mines, war zones, terrorists, mercenaries, mafiosi, massacres, kidnappers, drug smugglers, and all the other travel disasters that are the stuff of nightmares. But then, as the editors point out in their foreword, "as travelers are kidnapped and executed in Cambodia, a recognized dangerous place, they also are hunted down and murdered in Los Angeles." In other words, the most dangerous place in the world is more of a state of mind: ignorance. Neither is Fielding's The World's Most Dangerous Places meant to be used as a guidebook. True, there will be some adrenaline junkies out there who, upon perusing the pages about the war in Chechnya, decide that that's the place they want to be. The people most likely to benefit from this book, however, are those who either have to visit the perilous corners of the world--journalists, foreign-service employees, etc.--or those who have a desire to learn more about such places without necessarily visiting them. It's also a good compliment to more mainstream guidebooks for the growing legion of adventure travelers whose quests for higher mountains to climb, fiercer rivers to raft, and wilder trails to hike often take them to hazardous regions. Whether you're planning a trip to a dangerous place or you just want to learn more about one, The World's Most Dangerous Places is the right book at the right time." source: amazon.com

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