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Whatever You Do, Don't Run [Kindle Edition]

Peter Allison
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A hilarious, highly original collection of essays based on the Botswana truism: “only food runs!”

In the tradition of Bill Bryson, a new writer brings us the lively adventures and biting wit of an African safari guide. Peter Allison gives us the guide’s-eye view of living in the bush, confronting the world’s fiercest terrain of wild animals and, most challenging of all, managing herds of gaping tourists. Passionate for the animals of the Kalahari, Allison works as a top safari guide in the wildlife-rich Okavango Delta. As he serves the whims of his wealthy clients, he often has to stop the impulse to run as far away from them as he can, as these tourists are sometimes more dangerous than a pride of lions.
No one could make up these outrageous-but-true tales: the young woman who rejected the recommended safari-friendly khaki to wear a more “fashionable” hot pink ensemble; the lost tourist who happened to be drunk, half-naked, and a member of the British royal family; establishing a real friendship with the continent’s most vicious animal; the Japanese tourist who requested a repeat performance of Allison’s being charged by a lion so he could videotape it; and spending a crazy night in the wild after blowing a tire on a tour bus, revealing that Allison has as much good-natured scorn for himself.
The author’s humor is exceeded only by his love and respect for the animals, and his goal is to limit any negative exposure to humans by planning trips that are minimally invasive—unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way!

Peter Allison is originally from Sydney, Australia. His safaris have been featured in National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, and on television programs such as Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures. He travels frequently to speaking appearances, and splits most of his time between Botswana, Sydney, and San Francisco.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At age 19, Australian-born Allison headed to Africa for challenge and adventure, planning to stay no more than a year; having found work as a safari guide, he's still there some 13 years later. In this fun, fearless memoir, Allison shares his experiences taking "guests" through the African wilderness, trips that often don't go quite as planned-due especially to the unpredictability of the animals around them. Allison is a skilled, funny and vibrant storyteller, dishing arcane bits of wisdom like an expatriate Alligator Hunter: "I understand a little bit of monkey language, and 'kwe' is a sound I listened for. It was an alarm... full blown monkey conniptions were reserved for leopards." A hilarious chapter recounting a troubled thousand mile trek through the Kalahari Desert finds Allison trying to wave down a passing truck in the middle of the night: "I realized that the driver would have seen what looked like a very animated sage bush with pasty white hands growing from it... he'd probably go straight to a witch doctor... and ask if there was a curse on him." Along the way, Allison examines his fellow guides, the struggle with exhaustion, getting lost and the temptation to make frequently visiting animals into pets, as well as some poignant asides on love and death.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Allison's infectious enthusiasm for both the African bush and his job showing its wonders to tourists is readily apparent." --Booklist
"His misadventures make Whatever You Do, Don't Run an absorbing read. . . . The material is rich, and Allison is a gifted storyteller. And the only thing stranger than African fiction is African truth." --National Geographic Adventure
"After reading this entrancing memoir, an African safari may move to No. 1 on your travel wish list. The only catch is you'll want the author as your guide." --Chicago Sun-Times

Product Details

  • File Size: 1525 KB
  • Print Length: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; 1st edition (October 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,355 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bald-headed men beware! (Oh, just kidding.) January 14, 2008
Beginning in the mid-1990s, Peter Allison worked as a safari guide, primarily in Botswana. In Whatever You Do, Don't Run, Allison tells stories about his life in the bush. There are animal stories aplenty--a herd of elephants clustering protectively around its calving matriarch, a giant Python intent on crushing the life out of the author, an infestation of mice so desperately hungry they took to chewing on bald men's heads. But guides have to deal with paying guests as well as wild animals, and Allison does not shy from criticizing the spoiled and stupid among his tour groups.

In the hands of a more witty writer (think J. Maarten Troost's The Sex Lives of Cannibals), the material at Allison's disposal might have resulted in an unputdownable read. Allison's book isn't, but his stories are cute and amusing, and the author himself is likable and agreeably self-deprecating. Most interestingly, Whatever You Do, Don't Run gives readers a glimpse of an unusual llfestyle that most of us will probably not have given much thought to before: what's it like, day-to-day, to lead tourists around herds of impala and crocodile-infested rivers? If the subject matter is of interest, or if you like to browse the lives of people with jobs far different from yours, Allison's book is worth a quick read.

-- Debra Hamel
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, quick read. Enjoyed it a lot. November 4, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While I haven't been on safari, I'm guessing that this book should be required reading for anyone who is able to make the trip. Peter Allison's book was a nice, quick read filled with lots of great stories about his experiences. All in all, I would recommend this book highly. Several stories made me laugh out loud.

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only Food Runs February 17, 2010
I recently read the non-fiction book Whatever You Do Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide. This story is about Peter Allison's detailed and amusing tales from when he moved from Australia to Africa. I have never been out of the country, nor on a safari but after reading this book I felt as if I had just been on one. I always have wanted to go on a safari in Africa and now I want to work as a safari guide there, too. All the crazy and unbelievable stories that Allison shares opens up the reader's eyes on how different and sometimes scary a new continent can be, but also extremely rewarding.

In the beginning of the book I didn't quite understand why Allison would want to move from his suburban home in Australia to the far less developed continent of Africa. There are so many creepy bugs and diseases you can catch, but then I realized that there are more than dangerous organisms living in Africa. There are beautiful sunsets, majestic animals and the awesome stories that come with living in Africa. Allison had a thirst for adventure that needed to be quenched. This was satisfied when he traveled to Botswana.

Allison easily admitted he made lots of mistakes while being in Africa. He drove a Land Rover right into a river infested with hippos, and he also had to search for a half-naked tourist who is a member of the British royal family. While reading this book, I learned that it is ok to try new things and to be not so great at them. Allison had no idea what he was getting himself into, he had originally planned only to stay for two years but he spent at least a dozen years being a safari guide. He fell in love with Africa and its many endangered animals.

After reading this book I am going to try to convince my parents to take me to Africa and go on a safari. And I am recommending this book to anyone who likes a good laugh and some very odd yet pleasing stories.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you feel like laughing October 1, 2007
Mr. Allison's, WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T RUN is filled with hilariously funny sometimes irreverent stories about his experiences as a safari guide in Botswana. The title is what drew me to his book, only food runs! You can't put it down, it is laugh out loud funny and you don't want it to end. Please write more! I can't wait for your next installment.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nearly late for work! October 7, 2007
I was a bit hesitant about this book at first because of the very different style. Not in-your-face, nor condescending, not pretensious. Peter Allison is very funny and refreshingly self effacing. Humble, to use an old fashioned word.

But it was the adventure, the outrageous tourists, and the really unexpected turns of events that had me up way past midnight on a working day. So I was a bit out of it with clients. It was worth it!

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was so wonderful to read! April 21, 2010
In the book Whatever You do Don't Run the author Peter Allison, the main character and safari guide, tells stories about his astonishing adventures in Africa. This book was so good! I love how it was non-fiction, but reads like a realistic fiction story. As a freshman in high school I would recommend this book to all my friends.
One of the major reasons why I liked the book a lot was because the stories Peter wrote about were so interesting. My personal favorite is when Peter went swimming with elephants and had to maneuver around them, so they wouldn't notice him. Along with this one there are plenty of other breathtaking stories. Another characteristic I love about this book is its comedy. This book was hilarious. Some of the absurd stories about animals and tourists just made me laugh out loud.
When looking at other ratings of this book I couldn't find many negative ones. However, I did find one stating that Peter talked negatively of his costumers (the tourists). I would agree that not all of his tourist stories are positive, but on the other hand these ridiculous stories make the book great. For example Peter wrote about a few tourists that would not follow his rules. They would feed the wild animals and constantly take pictures. Although the author did say negative comments about these people, they created an interesting and funny story for him. There were also times in the book when the author spoke very highly of his customers.
I really think the author's purpose of this book was to show the reader what it's like to be an African safari guide. I also think he wanted to show what it would be like to be a tourist. Peter Allison did an amazing job of this. He went into to ample detail about his job, and every event that happens with it. This book was definitely a page-turner, and it was a pretty quick read. I can't wait to read the sequel, Don't Look Behind You!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Light but fun reading
This book was recommended by Overseas Adventure Travel to those going on their Southern Africa Safari. I enjoyed reading it. It was a fast, light read. Read more
Published 13 days ago by jessieth
5.0 out of 5 stars best ever fascinating book on being a safari guide
I enjoyed the many adventures of a true safari guide in Africa. I have often dreamed of going there for a safari, so I am very appreciative of the stories Peter told. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Louise Boyer
3.0 out of 5 stars Good stories, not particularly well told
A couple of the tales came across as flat--why bother? In other cases, the author has what would seem to be the makings of a terrific anecdote but doesn't tell them as well as he... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robin Pirie
4.0 out of 5 stars African Amusement
Allison retells the story of his years as a guide in Africa, with amusing anecdotes and also some very interesting facts about wildlife.
Published 1 month ago by Sheila Churchill
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous read
As a Motswana that grew up visiting a lot of the places that Allison writes about I was thrilled to read this book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kush
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable read
I enjoyed this different take on Africa and the look behind the scenes at being a guide. Well-written and interesting.
Published 1 month ago by Carilee E. Moran
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the stodgy reviews!
This book is a delight! Peter Allison is hilarious - just self-effacing enough to be down to earth, still in love with the animals and environment he works with. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lynda
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not well written
I chose this book because I enjoy travel essays. I thought this would be a fun read. The stories are mostly entertaining, but the writing is poor. Read more
Published 1 month ago by B. Neal
5.0 out of 5 stars I was in Botswana in 2012 and every story he is true
I loved his openness about every aspect of his experience. I spent time in Chobe & the delta as a guest, the guides are your e ticket to the kingdom. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Billiedwa
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read, but definitely some embellishment of facts
Cute stories. Let's call it semi-non-fiction! Been in safari and these episodes are a little far-fetched. Quick, page turning read.
Published 2 months ago by jay
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