Books

The Adventurist: My Life In Dangerous Places

By Robert Young Pelton

Doubleday/$24.95

Called "the tourist with attitude," Pelton ventures into areas even the U.S. State Department fears. Known for his extreme travel show, The World's Most Dangerous Places (featuring interviews with assassins, hit men, rebels, prostitutes and cops), Pelton begins this mix of biography and earthy travelogue with a thanks to "those who shot and missed." One of the author's previous books is even required reading for CIA agents.

The Adventurist has been panned by some critics as "egotistical." However, how many of us have careers where our success is gauged by the fact that we're still alive? Pelton rises from the pages not so much as a thrill-seeker, but as a boy who escaped an abusive childhood to roam countries where abuse is a lifestyle. He explores how people live under conditions of fear. Remarking on wildflowers, he hardly notices the bullets flying around his head like bees.

From headhunters to planes that fall from the sky to men who line their eyes with kohl (a black eyeliner) to keep the evil spirits from entering their eyes, Pelton longs for the peacefulness of the front lines in the Afghanistan conflict. In Malaysia, he weeps through the rainy season for a father who died.

Of his moss-defying rolling stone ways, he explains, "I find if you stay too long, you start to accept many of the things you thought were strange. You lose your objectivity, like doing an autopsy on your own children." The remarkable thing about Pelton's dangerous places is that he never lets the reader forget that what others have designated as "hell holes," are places where people live, love and raise children.

— RhondaK

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