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Pink Boots and a Machete: My Journey From NFL Cheerleader to National Geographic Explorer Hardcover – March 1, 2011

79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

From Pink Boots and a Machete
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"My big, small discovery in 2001. The mouse lemur of northeastern Madagascar is the world's smallest primate. If he looks a little spacey, it's due to the tranquilizer, not my squeezing." "My little newborn monkey, Emma. It was love at first sight." "My grin atop Mount Roraima comes from having survived the climb and near starvation. We found a spectacular landscape up there--black, forbidding, primeval." "A seemingly magical force drew me to the edge of Guyana's spectacular Kaieteur waterfall and made me want to spread my wings and fly."
"Game day was the pay-off for hours of grueling cheerleading practice. Nothing beat standing on the field listening to thousands of screaming fans--or hearing the National Anthem performed." "Leopards can be killing machines, but this one is a like a large house cat." "Coming full circle: 1978 ... and 2010"


"Mireya is a charming, hilarious, and wonderful storyteller, and though she's been charged and chased by wild animals in exotic locales and survived illnesses that would've killed a lesser person, she is also one of us—keenly and savagely aware of the importance of good hair and lip gloss."—Julie Klam, best-selling author of You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness

"We don't often hear stories of NFL cheerleaders who go on to become a Fulbright Scholar and a Ph.D., but Mireya's story is exactly that and more. Pink Boots is the spirited and colorful story of a little Cuban-American girl who refused to let culture and others' expectations of her hold her back. Her passion for the sciences and her adventurous spirit are deeply inspiring and incredibly invigorating. Mireya is beauty and brains personified--and a badass at that. It is a memoir of survival."—Lisa Ling, journalist and best-selling author of Somewhere Inside

Mayor never gave up her trademark stylishness, even when the going got tough. [Her] gutsy grittiness and wicked sense of humor allowed her to survive danger, disease and sexism. Entertaining reading for the intrepid at heart."—KIRKUS REVIEWS
"Written in a breezy style that will be welcome to reality television aficionados, this National Geographic Wild co-host knows her audience and has crafted an appealing memoir that will be particularly welcome to outdoor wannabes."—BOOKLIST
"[Pink Boots] fills an important gap; it ought to inspire young people, especially young women, to follow in Mayor’s footsteps. Armchair adventurers and readers interested in nature will enjoy the journey."—LIBRARY JOURNAL

"Pink Boots and a Machete is an empowering autobiography detailing how one humble, tree-climbing, bug-collecting tomboy evolved into one of the most recognizable primatologists and television adventurers on the planet. Mireya Mayor holds nothing back—from growing up in a family displaced by political oppression, to finding fame on the sidelines of professional football fields, to her triumphs and challenges in some of the most remote places on earth. You'll be amazed at Mayor's fertile sense of humor, her brutal honesty, and and her empowering message that anyone can achieve. Can we have it all? Apparently yes, with some perseverance, determination, and attitude, it seems that we really can. If you're female, you'll want to be just like her. If you're a guy ... you'll just want her. Regardless, this is the rare autobiography that carries the true voice of its author, and should not be missed."—HERALD de PARIS 

“Engrossing.” –The Midwest Book Review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426207212
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426207211
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Who wears pink hiking boots into the jungle, packs a little black dress (because you never know), and tracks wild animals like she's stalking a cheating boyfriend...Dr. Mireya Mayor: Nat Geo WILD channel host, National Geographic Explorer, and primatological goddess who is redefining what it means to "have it all" for a new generation of women. Pink Boots and a Machete tells the unlikely story of a first-generation Cuban-American girlie girl who forges her way from her über-protected suburban upbringing to NFL cheerleader to death-defying adventures around the globe. With plenty of field studies under her belt, Mayor vividly details her own backstory and relives her most thrilling adventures. Whether she is diving with sharks or standing down a gorilla, this compelling and often hilarious memoir reveals her relentless determination,indomitable spirit, and above all, fierce love of animals.
Not many former NFL cheerleaders have survived a plane crash, slept in jungles teeming with poisonous snakes, swam with hungry great white sharks, rappelled down a 14,000-foot sinkhole in search of frogs, and been charged by an angry silver-backed gorilla. But then, Mireya Mayor is not your typical ex-NFL cheerleader.
A scientist, explorer, wildlife correspondent, anthropologist and inspirational speaker, Dr. Mireya Mayor, a Ph.D. in anthropology, has reported on wildlife and habitat issues to worldwide audiences for more than a decade.
In 2005, Mireya received two Emmy Award nominations for her work on the television series "Ultimate Explorer". Mireya was later named an "Emerging Explorer" in 2007 by the National Geographic Society which selects rising talents, "the next generation of visionaries" who push the boundaries of adventure and global problem solving, inspiring people to care about the planet. Mireya then went on to star in Mark Burnett's eagerly anticipated 8-part series Expedition Africa: Stanley & Livingstone (History Channel) in 2009 as one of four explorers to retrace the nearly 1,000-mile trip of Henry Stanley & David Livingstone. Armed with only a compass and old maps, the explorers face challenging terrain, conflicting team dynamics, and diverse wildlife.
Mireya is now one of the hosts on National Geographic's new channel Wild! You can currently catch her series "Wild Nights with Mireya Mayor" and her documentary special "Mystery Gorillas".
Mireya is a Fulbright scholar, National Science Foundation Fellow and published author with a Ph.D. in anthropology from Stony Brook University. She wrote the foreword and was a major contributor for National Geographic's Complete Survival Manual, has written articles for National Geographic's kids magazines "Explorer' and 'Extreme Explorer', and is working closely with National Geographic's School Publishing on videos and textbooks for classrooms nationwide.
Mireya has made numerous appearances on the "Today" show, MSNBC, CNN, and Despierta America and has been profiled in People, Marie Claire, Latina, National Geographic Adventure, Vanidades and Elle magazines. Mireya divides her time between research in the rainforests of Madagascar, lecturing at schools and universities and traveling the world as a wildlife correspondent. Mireya's talks are inspiring for all ages but, is an especially powerful presenter for student audiences. Visit her website

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By MrSteveG on March 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the moment you pick up this book you will be drawn into an incredible story of one woman's journey. It is a life full of adventure, exploration, and discovery--both personal and scientific. You will find yourself hard pressed to remember this is an autobiography and not an adventure novel.

Mireya Mayor grabs your attention in the opening chapter of the book when she recounts, in vivid detail, the sudden descent of her airplane in the Congo. As the aircraft drops she realizes that she may die in the crash. From that moment the reader is taken on a journey of her amazing life, recounting how she came to arrive at that moment.

You will enjoy reading about her life as a little girl growing up in Miami. You will actually find yourself laughing out loud when she recounts the menagerie she collected as a child. You will also marvel at the fact this little girl, who was not allowed to join the Girl Scouts because it was "too dangerous", would later in life come face to face with a charging Silver Back gorilla.

She is first and foremost a scientist---but unlike some journals written by or about scientist I have read in the past she does not talk "at" or "down", but rather "to" you the reader. Throughout the book Dr. Mayor shares her travels and discoveries with the reader. Her passion for discovery jumps off the pages, and as a reader you can't help but share her joy and wonder as she explores new lands and encounters new cultures.

You will also share in her frustration when she recounts being judged for her looks and her time as a cheerleader. You will applaud when she does not let comments from not only her colleagues, but also the media, affect her drive or determination.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Griswold VINE VOICE on May 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Pink Boots and a Machete by Mireya Mayor is fairly light reading as in there's nothing too complex, it's just a light, airy read perfect for a summer day. There's also a really good message not just for young girls, but everyone really that you don't have to be put up with being stereotyped. Mireya Mayor was an NFL cheerleader with the Miami Dolphins but gave up to earn her PHD. in anthropology, I believe breaking the stereotype of the "dumb" cheerleader, despite all the naysayer's and unbelievers who didn't believe in her. So if the tone of the book sounds a little bragish or show offy as some other reviewers have suggested, maybe one should consider the obstacles placed in a person's path when they try to accomplish the unexpected.

Lest I sound like the president of her fan club, because the book is such a brisk read, certain elements of her life get a gloss over treatment. In many cases, this might not be a problem for the reader, but her cheerleading career gets relegated to just a few pages, which is probably not a good thing when the book is billed as a journey from NFL cheerleader to National Geographic explorer. What I was expecting was an equal treatment of the two aspects of her life. I mean it's great in all that she's an explorer and sounds like a really interesting person, but we move very rapidly in the space of no more than 10 pages from Dolphins cheerleader to petitioning African governments to study their monkeys. I thought the bridges between the two could've been a lot stronger.

Overall a fun, occasionally humorous read with a good message particularly for young girls that has questionable execution.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Glamour_Biologist on December 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Personally, I loved it. It's an easy read, there is a lot of great scientific information provided but it's not written in a snooty "I have a PhD so look at me talk over your head" way, (and I know plenty of those types...). This book has inspired me to work even harder. Maybe I am biased, I am a first generation college student in my family,I started off at a community college at age 22, and worked my butt off to finally become a graduate student. I am currently half way through my MS degree researching Panamanian wildlife. Like Mireya, I LOVE to wear heels, sparkly dresses, have my hair done, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE wildlife and science. And like the author, I have gotten a lot of grief over it, she has inspired me to go and kick butt even more than usual! She tells the story in a funny way, when you read this book you know that she is a normal person with her own fears, challenges, and self-doubt. People who don't like the book are just haters or lack that same internal passion for everything environmental that people in the fields of biology, natural resources, anthropology, etc. have. It's not supposed to replace classic literature. This book is a fun, interesting, exciting, and inspirational read, and should be given to all young girls and women who love science. I read it on the plane on my way to the International Congress for Conservation Biology, and you bet I wore my heels at the conference (pretty much the only woman who did...)Thanks!Enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dr. Mireya Mayor's life journey in Pink Boots and a Machete is an amazing one.

Dr. Mayor takes the road less traveled, going from prowling the Sunday sidelines as an NFL cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins to becoming a Ph.D. scientist and stalking the jungles of Madagascar and the Congo to discover new species of lemurs and track gorilla family groups. Along the way she ends up with the title of "Emerging Explorer," a show on National Geographic television, and a family with two intrepid little girls much like herself. Through all the mud, life-threatening tropical diseases, and parasites, however, she never loses sight of her Cuban-American roots or of her situation of often being the only woman in a field largely dominated by larger-than-life type-A male personalities. Mayor comes from a family of very strong Cuban women and proves time and again that she can hold her own against anyone.

Dr. Mayor recounts her adventures with a breezy, journalistic style and never gets bogged down in too much scientific detail. This upbeat, inspirational book is to entertain and to raise awareness about her beloved primate species with the general public. Mayor does a terrific job, and keeps us turning pages to the very end.

A problem with this book is that it tends to get a bit too breezy for my tastes. Mayor could have spent more time discussing the plight of endangered species in Madagascar and the Congo, or on the actual research itself. She instead goes back time and time again to things like describing how to dye your hair in the remote forest, taking showers in waterfalls, and providing the "Vain Girl's Survival Checklist" (pack lipstick - "Great for writing SOS on windshields and rooftops" and breath mints - "Need to meet that hunky French pilot?"). Dr.
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