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A compendium of the world's frightful places

Book advises how to survive in trouble spots

Author Robert Young Pelton with Raul Reyes, spokeman for the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) of Colombia  

In this story:

Understanding how to survive

Close call


(CNN) -- When he traveled to remote, often-dangerous regions for his marketing job, Robert Young Pelton was amazed by the dearth of useful information for visitors.

"I was always surprised you could get a guidebook to Paris but couldn't find anything on Algeria and Afghanistan," he said. "I thought it would be neat to do a travel guide for places where you need a travel guide."

So he created "The World's Most Dangerous Places," a 1,000-page look at the places where many fear to tread.


Click for Pelton's list of the 10 most dangerous countries for travelers


The book first appeared in 1995, and has developed a faithful following on its way to the recently released fourth edition. Customers include journalists, the CIA and Navy SEALS, he said.

"Essentially, the book is what you need to know to get in and out of places, targeted for people who have to go there," he said, noting it emphasizes "common-sense advice" from nontraditional sources, including rebels.

Understanding how to survive

Among the topics: "How to Survive Taxis," "How to Survive War Zones," "Dangerous Places for Business Travel" and "Hostage Etiquette." The bulk of the book is devoted to the 38 countries Pelton has deemed particularly dangerous, including Cambodia, Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq, Angola and Uganda, to name a few.

The United States also made the list.

Pelton visits captured mujahedeen in a prison in Northern Afghanistan  

"And we tell other people how to run the country?" he writes. "Over 70 people killed a day and over 220 million guns ready to party."

Pelton, who has written two other books and has a show on the Discovery Travel Channel, says the book isn't really a travel guide, at least not in any traditional sense.

"The book is not designed to send people to dangerous places," said the Los Angeles, California, writer. "It's designed to help them understand how to survive."

Close call

The author knows of what he writes. In a trip to Uganda, for example, a bomb exploded under a table where he had been sitting just an hour earlier, killing several people.

Despite potential risks, Pelton doesn't want people to turn their backs on the more dangerous destinations.

"We're told to stay away from these places, and yet that's where the world's problems are," he said. "How are we going to fix anything if we're too terrified to go to these places?"

Assessing travel safety
March 4, 1999


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