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Come Back Alive Paperback – June 1, 1999

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Soul Shifts
There are pivotal moments in the lives of all seekers when we realize that we’ve been traveling on our path of growth toward happiness and ful­fillment, but, simply put, we want to go faster.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

From the Inside Flap

Welcome to the art of survival!

Come Back Alive is the indispensable and witty guide to avoiding nasty situations, whether on a business trip, an adventure vacation, or a weekend hike. In this book, the author of the classic travel annual The World's Most Dangerous Places, Robert Young Pelton--"Dangerman" (Toronto Globe & Mail); "tourist with an attitude" (Outside magazine); "the patron saint of adventure travelers"  (ZineZone. com)--reveals the secrets that have kept him alive and laughing:

in the desert: finding water where it ain't, dehydration and rehydration, copping a nuclear tan
in the jungle: trekking, camping, jungle tucker, what to do when there's no bridge
in the woods: when you're tentless and clueless, when dinner's still mobile
in the snow: dressing for excess; building a snow cave, what to do when someone's going hypo
on the road: surviving adventure travel, from mild to wild
when assaulted: passive self-defense, active self-defense, better ideas in self-defense
when kidnapped: how to avoid it, how to survive it
during natural disasters: hurricanes, avalanches, lightning, earthquakes, and more!
when facing nasty animals: animals that bite you, eat you, sting you, and what to do when Bambi strikes back

You will also learn strategies for adventure travel, urban areas, war zones, terrorism, crime spots, and even the dangers of your own house--the place you're most likely to get into trouble.

Whether you are young or old, man or woman, going on a business trip, a ski weekend, an African safari, or just to the corner store, Come Back Alive gives you the comprehensive and fascinating advice you'll need to protect yourself. No matter where you're going, what you're doing, or how dangerous you want to get, Come Back Alive is essential to your safe and stylish return.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Main Street Books; 1 edition (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385495668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385495660
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #841,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

"Robert Young Pelton is the guy most men think they are after slamming two tequilas" - Tim Cahill

Robert Young Pelton (b. July 25, 1955, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), is an author, journalist and documentary filmmaker. An iconoclast known for his entry into most of the world's conflicts over the last fifteen years, Pelton is known as an adventurer and a witness" to conflict. His reputation is built on his interest and ability to enter forbidden, deadly and violent places and emerge with a stunning story. Pelton has been present at many historic battles. He was US special forces and General Dostum during and after the battle of Qala-I-Jangi in Afghanistan, with Chechen rebels during the siege of Grozny in Chechnya, with the LURD rebels during the bloody campaign to take Monrovia in Liberia and approximately 3 dozen other conflicts.

He survived an assassination attempt in Uganda, a plane crash in Indonesia and was kidnapped by the AUC death squads in Colombia. He spent time with the CIA during the hunt for Bin Laden and ran Route Irish with Blackwater security contractors for a month during late 2004 during the war in Iraq.

Pelton's regularly published survival and political guide The World's Most Dangerous Places, provides practical and survival information for people who work and travel in high risk zones, was a best seller. With the book's best seller status Pelton has become an expert on work and travel in "high-risk" environments. He was also host of the Discovery Travel Channel series "Robert Young Pelton's The World's Most Dangerous Places" from 1998 to 2003. Now residing in Los Angeles, California, Pelton currently writes books and produces documentaries on conflict-related subjects.

He is also a frequent television and magazine interview subject, often appearing as an often humorous raconteur of his various misfortunes and safety tips on shows as diverse as Oprah, Conan O'Brien, CNN, Fox, BBC, ABC, CBS, NBC and others.

Pelton has also worked as a journalist for CNN, CBS 60 Minutes, ABC Investigative Division, National Geographic and others. He has probably spent more time with insurgent, rebel and terorist groups than any other journalist and is known for introducing the world to John Walker Lindh with his stunning Dec 2, 2001 battlefield interview on CNN.

Robert Young Pelton's Official Website is:

Customer Reviews

I'd recommend reading this book as a supplement to "Dangerous Places".
A. Gaver
The fact that we have little choice of material in this genre is the main reason a book like this sells.
The amount of useful, hard, practical info could be put into a small pamphlet.
robert mckim

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I really disagree with most of the reviews here. I found this book fascinating and potentially useful. I live in the U.S., but if I were to travel anywhere outside the "First World", I would read this book 4-5 times. I can't really say about the rest of the chapters (not enough personal experience), but the chapter on self-defense is dead on. Most books will tell you that you can defened yourself well, but the reality is, as Pelton says, you are up against guys who: a. make a living 'jacking people', and b. are pre-prepared for the assault, whereas you are on your cell phone or counting your travelers checks. Very true. The cards are so stacked against you most of the time. This book is just trying to tell the truth about that, from Pelton's experience, and trying to give you some 'cards' so that you are not so outgunned. For example, his advice about "using a sense of humor" in the Third World to get out of jams is very useful, and could save lives. Just smiling at someone or making a hand gesture could save you. I have seen it in action myself, and have used it. Like I say, against someone bent on jacking you, your chances are slim, but in most other situations, humor could work. Like I said, if I had one book to take on a "Third World Tour", this would be it.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By B. Warrick on December 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a huge fan of Robert Young Pelton's World's Most Dangerous Places, I was really looking forward to reading this book. But while it was entertaining enough, I didn't feel that it was up to DP's usual standards...so I found myself being mildly disappointed.
I guess that when it comes down to it, I felt that the book was not meaty enough for a Pelton offering. The chapters were fairly short and I don't really feel that enough specifics were given about any given survival situation for the book to be truly useful in the field. Often, I felt like I was being given the "executive summary" rather than the specific details I would need to stay alive under trying circumstances.
Because I'm a DP fan, I know that Pelton can do better than this. This book won't stop me from reading other Pelton offerings, but I'm hoping that, like DP itself, it will evolve year by year and edition by edition into a truly excellent book.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
I would hope that a book with this title would at least have its facts straight, but with even my limited knowledge, I found errors in almost every chapter. Where were the editors and fact-checkers?? Some of the errors are just silly: "water weighs about sixty pounds a square foot" (!). Some of them are confusing: one tablet of Potable-Aqua "should disinfect about 16 liters of murky water" (the label calls for 2 tablets per quart!). It's not correct that 7.5-minute topos always have 20-foot contour lines (in fact, it varies, depending on local terrain). The advice on overheating is potentially life-threatening, since it doesn't give the simple and clear diagnostics that you'll find in any first-aid manual between heat prostration (pale and clammy... rest and drink fluids) and heatstroke (red and hot... call an ambulance, rather than fanning yourself, as the author recommends!). Get a copy of the Boy Scout Handbook instead of this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roderick Eime on June 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
I've been relying on advice from this book and "Most Dangerous Places" for several years now. Although I wouldn't call it my "gospel" there are a lot of useful pieces of information that could save your life. Although I am not constantly exposed to life-threatening danger, my experience shows me that most accidents and mishaps occur to tourists because they drop their guard or get complacent. My advice is simple. Don't be paranoid, but never take personal security for granted - even if you are just going to the local shops...
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By robert mckim on December 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is long on humorous one liners and short on specifics. The amount of useful, hard, practical info could be put into a small pamphlet. It was a fairly enjoyable light read (I used it as a bathroom reader, sorry Robert) but I have in the past and plan in the future to travel to some of these places he mentions and I feel no better prepared for them. Perhaps it is good he does not instill a false sence of security in people by giving them clever 1,2,3 recipies for difficult situations. The one theme found throughout the book is "use your common sense." This is good advice, but then, I already knew that.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Nick Hughes on July 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Have to agree with one of the other reviewers that questioned the accuracy of the advice contained within. As a self defense instructor, former body guard and Foreign Legionnaire I was particularly interested in the chapters on self defense and kidnapping. Mr Pelton wheels out the old "you can kill someone by driving their nose through their brain." which is about as true to life as is "registering your hands with the police if you're a black belt." Ask any doctor, ramming the cartilage through the brain is a medical impossibility. The absolute best you could hope for is causing a sliver of the nose bone (where the cartilage joins) to penetrate the cribiform plate which would permit mucus to get into the brain fluid. Without medical attention the victim might eventually die of bacterial infection. Chances of pulling this off would be about 1 in a 100,000. He then claims this is the only way to kill someone with your barehands from the front. Please!! If you punch someone in the throat there's a very good chance you'll cause the trachea to collapse and they'll assume room temperature fairly rapidly. Same thing if you hit the xyphoid process hard enough. Next time Mr Pelton ventures outside of his specialty I suggest he call in the experts.
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