52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
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
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 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.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2007
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.
38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 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.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 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!
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 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!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2008
Peter Allison was 19 when he left his suburban home in Australia to follow his dream and backpack around Africa. He soon ran out of money and found himself bar tending in a South African safari resort. He moved up the ranks to a safari guide in Botswana where he stayed for the next seven years running a camp and taking daily jeep rides with tourists from around the world out into the bush.
Allison knew nothing about animals of Africa when he started. Much of the charm of the book is Allison's self-deprecating English humor as he makes mistake after mistake. His amateurism is a parody of the serious African adventurer; yet paradoxically his amateurism gives his account a sense of authority, we are able to see his wayward mistakes as a sign of his own expertise. Amateurism also provides Allison with a form of self-protection from the dangers of the bush; like a Mr Magoo stumbling into bad situations, it is his recognition of bad decisions that enable him to escape (unlike a "professional" who might not be as flexible in admitting a mistake).
_Whatever You Do, Don't Run_ is written in the travel literature tradition of the wayward English gentleman bumbling through situations with campy humor, similar to A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush. The idea is to de-throne the serious, to present a comic vision of the safari world that promotes harmless entertainment; but this also has the effect of disengagement and detachment - the safari guests from Germany, Japan and elsewhere become props to hang global stereotypes or moral outrages. It also serves as cover for Allison - behind the facade of wry humor and aestheticism is a sense of moral and cultural superiority; the self parody hides his own role and responsibility.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2010
Whatever you do, don't run was one of the funniest books I have read in a while. Being a high school student, I never would have suspected that a book about lions and warthogs would have interested me, but less than 50 pages into the book I was hooked. From thereafter, I decided that one day I too would find myself on a Botswana safari.
My favorite aspect of the book was the author's encounters with such extraordinary animals I have seen only from behind zoo fences. He was able to see them in their natural environment. He saw animals hunting, sleeping, and even witnessed a live elephant birth. Also, he knew how to throw in bits of creative humor, mostly about how his and his friends' quest for masculinity related equally to a male elephant taking down a tree, or two lion tribes fighting over a lioness. His descriptions kept me laughing page after page.
The book has received only 2 low ratings. I can understand the perspective of one reviewer who gave the book 2 stars. The reviewer felt the author portrayed his customers as rude and unappreciative. They felt it made fun of the customers too much, and needed to focus more on the animals. I agree, he did write about some obnoxious customers, but remember; the goal here is to sell books. Would you sit there reading a book that states what wonderful people he guided? Or instead, one about losing a drunk member of the British Royal family, or a Japanese tourist who gives stage directions to animals so he can take great pictures. Now that's more like it! Also, the other low reviewer wanted more detail from the book, when her review was barely 2 sentences. Enough said.
So, if you crave a little adventure or want to experience beauty and a little wild wilderness from the comfort of home, Whatever you do, don't run is the perfect choice to lead your safari.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2010
If you look above, yes, Amazon says, "Whatever you do; don't run" is a non-fiction (or at least it should). But I guarantee, it's nothing like one's average fact-filled, information-overload type of non-fiction. Rather, it's a series of short stories with absolutely no plot that goes through the whole book. And guess what? It doesn't need any, for each chapter, a.k.a. short story, is hilariously entertaining standing on its own.
The whole idea of this delightful book is that the author, Peter Allison, needed a job in Africa when he was 19 so he could pay for a ticket back to Australia, his original country. It was a while ago, about 16 years, so in the year 1994. Since then to present I should hope that Peter has found a job as a safari guide in South Africa, eventually moving to Botswana. He has faced dangers such as charging lions and elephants and encountered animals that most of us will never see. The tourists he guided were the basic stereotypes of whatever country they were from, but that just made it all the more funny. His book isn't just words though; it has photographs! They make the story come alive even more. The funny thing about the background was that Peter only planned to stay in Africa a year; that obviously got stretched out.
It was a rather quick read even though I was supposed to annotate it, but I got lost in it, and finished it all in one sitting. "Whatever you do; don't run" is good for a summer's day, where one can just let your mind wander to the brush of Africa. Just make sure one has the time because some parts I had to reread and the rest I wanted to appreciate. I agree with other reviews, though, it made me laugh out loud or at the least smile and chuckle. Even just thinking of it makes me smile. It leaves the reader feeling refreshed. And if the reader's still unsatisfied with just this, Peter Allison wrote another book about the African brush, "Don't Look Behind You!" which I can't wait to start on. But this book isn't all entertainment. Allison provides some information on the animals he shows, so "Whatever you do; don't run" would do well for any traveler who plans on going to Africa. I gave it 5 stars, but of the 70 reviews that include mine, only 2 were 2 stars. They are the minority of the reviews, but in case you are too, I'd read their reviews. One of them said that the author made it seem that the tourists were bad, or at least carried an unpleasant attitude. If you look through the book, the chapters that are specifically about the costumers are relatively few in number. He probably had thousands of other tourists that he said nothing about; it only was those few he showed a negative attitude toward. I'd recommend this scrumptious dessert of a book, consisting of a meager 264 pages, to anyone.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2011
Having read most of Capstick's books - I was looking for some more in the same vein. This is about the person whereas Capstick is oriented towards the animals and dealing with them. This book is about the writer with the setting in Okavango Delta. Adolescent humor. Easy read - two evenings worth. He did write about the way Africans choose their words carefully in conversations.