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Book Review: The World's Most Dangerous Places

The World's Most Dangerous Places, by Robert Young Pelton, Coskun Aral and Wink Dulles. A Guide to Surviving War and other Big Troubles while Traveling.

This book is not for your mother. It will scare her.

Hell, it will even scare you. It scared me until I realized that in all my travels, I have never encountered anything as dramatic or serious as mentioned in Fielding's The Worlds Most Dangerous Places. Professional adventurer Robert Young Pelton and his team seem to be extremists and alarmists. If you are a traveler stupid enough to search out war zones, or are determined to set foot in countries your state department declares unsafe, then you will find this book useful. War correspondents, peacekeepers and anyone who enjoys watching death and human suffering will find this book useful. For all you others, (I hope I am addressing the majority here) it is an interesting read.

After a particularly lengthy disclaimer, and a 'who should read this book' segment, Dangerous Places delves into the statistical probability of you making it to the age you are now. It gives you tips on how to stay alive in your own home, and around town. This portion of the book suggests that allowing a 16-year-old to drive is equivalent to a death wish. You might as well get out and see the world -- it is probably safer. Having said that, Pelton and his cohorts, go on to explain how unsafe traveling really is.

After your basic general danger section, you are treated to a rundown of the most dangerous places. The list reads from Afghanistan to, yes, the United States. Each of these segments includes a lengthy introduction, the scoop, the players, getting in, getting around, the worst places in these countries, and a nuts and bolts list of useful contacts. Usually a short story illustrating somebody's adventure in that country finishes off each section. At the very end of the book is a Hail Mary Section where you can pay penance by reading chapters such as Save the People, Save the Planet and Save Yourself.

The chapter titles read like nightmares: Tourists: Fodder for Fiends; War's Bastard Son; Crime Does Pay; Watching War Waste; Welcome to the Wars of the Innocents; and so forth and so on. Individual topics are just as bad and include guides to guns, drugs, diseases, land mines, terrorism and more. However, if you are ever faced with such a situation as a gunfight, kidnapping, war or a host of other nasties while traveling, this book could save your life. Even bribes are covered. I must admit the advice on bribes would have helped me when I was 19 and traveling through Mexico. Pelton, Aral and Dulles bring us the worst-case scenarios and tips on how to live through them. It is a good read on a rainy day in the relative safety of your own home, for those who do not worry excessively, or suffer from paranoia.