Saturday, April 13, 2013

Whatever You Do, Don't Run by Peter Allison

I was in the library recently doing research on a future trip and saw this book displayed in the travel section. The cover was obviously the first thing that grabbed me. I looked at it closely because I couldn't tell if it was photo-shopped or not; I still can't. So since I already had it in my hand I turned it over and read the descriptive passage on the back. "Join Allison as he faces down charging lions---twice; searches for a drunk, half-naked tourist who happens to be a member of the British royal family; drives a Land Rover full of tourists into a lagoon full of hippos; and adopts the most vicious animal in Africa as his 'pet'."

This sounded interesting, so I glanced at the Table of Contents. I saw a few chapter titles that sounded interesting, too: The World's Worst Bathroom, Buffalo School, And The Fool & The Snake. Plus in the center of the book are a few pages of photos taken by the author, and they, too, looked interesting. So I decided to take a chance on thsi book and borrowed it.

I'm glad I did.

Peter Allison is an Australian who went to Africa as a 19-year-old kid for what he thought would be a one-year holiday; he ended up never really leaving. Currently he is a safari guide in Botswana. This book is a collection of some of his adventure as a youngster trying his hand at live on the veldt.

His writing style reminds me of Bill Bryson, author of A Walk In The Woods and I'm A Stranger Here Myself. His tone is conversational, straight-forward and fun. One of Allison's most interesting stories concerned his humorous battle with a wart-hog. Another funny one was about the year the camp was over-run by mice...which also made on overly-anxious elephant run amok as well. The comedy is balanced by a poignant story of one of his friends who ends up dying of AIDS. And he tells the breathtaking story of witnessing an extremely rare and dangerous lion chase, only to have the tourists he was guiding at the time be anything but impressed. And I laughed out loud at his description of a group of Japanese tourists; one in particular was never satisfied by the poses of the animals, the natural lighting, or the overall composition of his photographs.

Whatever You Do, Don't Run is 246 pages, divided into twenty-eight chapters with an average length of eight pages. It is light and easy to read, and a great description of what it must be like on an actual safari camp.

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