Robert Young Pelton’s The Wold’s Most Dangerous Places is worthy of being added to the “books that will make you a better human being” list. Different from RYP’s autobiography, DP is adrenaline-filled and hard-hitting. That I read its 1057 pages in little over a week is probably the highest praise I can give.
The bulk of DP acts as a guidebook to the countries profiled, but there are other sections included. When people asked me what I was reading, I found it great fun to read off a couple chapter titles to them: Bribes, Drugs, Getting Arrested, Guns, Kidnapping, Land Mines, and Mercenaries are just some of the more interesting ones.
This 5th edition, published in 2003, can at times feel extremely dated. For instance, the Iraq chapter is pre invasion of Baghdad. The Mercenaries chapter doesn’t mention Blackwater, I think one of the most prominent merc groups, but I guess few knew of them before Fallujah. Pre Ariel Sharon coma, pre Hamas victory. The U.S. chapter even has profiles of Powell and Ashcroft (and, of course, the profile of Cheney mentions nothing of his marksmanship).
The political analysis and history is single-minded and the humor dark, but that’s to be expected from someone who has experienced all that RYP and his contributors have. At times his more compassionate side comes through, making it evident that he’s still part human under that large, bushy mustache.
Despite its shortcomings, DP includes detailed information on locations that you’ll never hear about it in school or the news. Where journalists fear for their lives, RYP is admired and respected by rebel groups, dictators, and special forces groups alike.
Hard-core readers of DP… seek the stone-heavy truth of experience and the wisdom-inducing perspective of intense emotional experience, tempered by the cool intellectual framework of research. Welcome to DP: No walls, no barriers, no bull.