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Dead Men Don't Leave Tips: Adventures X Africa Paperback – 1 Nov 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Pilgrim's Tales, Inc. (1 Nov. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977053644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977053643
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,158,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

BRANDON WILSON is the Lowell Thomas award-winning author of a series of four travel adventure books, a photographer, explorer and adventure-travel writer whose stories have appeared in international anthologies, magazines, newspapers, and across the Internet. A voracious explorer of nearly 100 countries, Wilson is passionate about inspiring others with the possibility of discovery through adventure travel. Much like his vow to "Never say Impossible," his stories are accounts of somewhat everyday people taking on extraordinary challenges.

Born in Pennsylvania, USA, he developed wanderlust at an early age and has spent much of his so-called adult life in Hawaii (or on the road). However, his fascination with what he calls "slow, deliberate travel" began when he and his wife Cheryl became the first western couple to trek 650-miles across the Himalayan Plains from Lhasa, Tibet to Kathmandu on a harrowing trek in 1992.

The peripatetic writer has now thru-hiked ten of the world's great long-distance trails, including the Camino de Santiago (twice) and Via de la Plata across Spain, as well as St. Olav's Way across Norway. He was among the first to hike the 1150-mile Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome, and in 2006, he and a friend re-blazed the 2600-mile route of the First Crusades from France to Jerusalem on an 11-country walk for peace, naming it the Templar Trail.

Their adventure was chronicled in ALONG THE TEMPLAR TRAIL: Seven Million Steps for Peace, the Lowell Thomas Gold Award-winner for 2009 Best Travel Book (Society of American Travel Writers Foundation) and a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Finalist (adventure/recreation). It was called "a rhapsody on the theme of pilgrimage" by Phil Cousineau, author of The Art of Pilgrimage.

Other books in his travel adventure series include: DEAD MEN DON'T LEAVE TIPS: Adventures X Africa (2005); and YAK BUTTER BLUES (2004, 2nd edition 2005), his debut book, which won an IPPY Award. A Spanish edition will be published in 2010.

His newest book, OVER THE TOP & BACK AGAIN: Hiking X the Alps, published in fall 2010, was named a 2010 Book of the Year Finalist by ForeWord Reviews. It's a typically gritty (yet humorous) look at the eight-country Alpine crossing made by Wilson and his wife in 2009--and the first such book about trekking the Via Alpina from Trieste to Monaco in English. (with 53 maps, photos and illustrations by Ken Plumb)

"Life When Hell Freezes Over," his story about his year of purgatory spent living in the Arctic, appeared in THEY LIVED TO TELL THE TALE: True Stories of Adventure from the Legendary Explorers Club (The Lyons Press/Globe Pequot, 2007). He was also honored to write the introduction to ON A DONKEY'S BACK, a collection of poetry and paintings by and about the tough lives of Nepalese porters, (Yileen Press, 2008).

His photos have won awards from National Geographic Traveler and Islands magazines, while his 50-page photo essay on Spain's Via de la Plata was featured in NÄIVE & ABROAD: SPAIN, Limping 600 Miles Through History by Marcus Wilder (2008).

Wilson is a human rights activist and member of the prestigious Explorers Club.

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Product Description


"A great read in the comfort of an easy chair, one of those books that inspires the dream of wanderlust…" -- Liz Janes-Brown, The Maui News, 11/20/05

"A magical story laced with humor and tragedy…it brings Africa to readers on an intimate level not found elsewhere." -- Andrew F. O’Hara, author of The Swan: Tales of the Sacramento Valley/journalist

"An adventure journal only the craziest traveler would take as a guide. But we can dream, can’t we?" (5 shakas) -- Joseph W. Bean, Book Reviewer, Maui Weekly (Hawaii), October 26, 2005

"Both a delight and a puzzlement...It is, as many trips go, the
end that really whomps you." -- Marilis Hornidge, Book Reviewer, The Courier-Gazette, Maine, August 2006

"Honest, gritty and insightful. Best of all, it makes the world’s most exciting continent read just like that." -- John Heminway, film producer/author of Yonder: A Place in Montana and No Man's Land: A Personal Journey into Africa

"Terrific read from first page to last… would make a popular addition to any personal or community library travel section." -- Midwest Book Review, March 2006

"The most eclectic collection of travelers I've ever read about. I couldn't stop laughing. Highly recommended. (smile)" -- James Damico,

"Transcends its genre to become a tranformative journey of the soul into a disparate and gorgeously challenging culture…" -- C. W. Gortner, author of The Secret Lion

"Wilson is a writer with the eye of an artist, a basic decency and social conscience…I strongly recommend it." -- Dr. Bob Rich, award-winning author of thirteen books/editor/counselling psychologist

"Wilson offers great advice for the road… And his concerns about the ecological and social woes of Africa are shared…" -- Honolulu Advertiser (Gannett), January 22, 2006 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher

DEAD MEN DON'T LEAVE TIPS: Adventures X Africa by Brandon Wilson is, at first glance, a story about a honeymooning couple’s seven month, 10,000-mile, 17-country trans-African odyssey – overland across Africa from Morocco to Cape Town. After their organized overland safari turns into a nightmare, they set off across Africa alone.

More an adventure story than a scholastic treatise on Africa, this book takes readers across Africa as these "everyman" travelers photo-stalk mountain gorillas, breakdown in the Sahara for two weeks, hunt with Pygmies, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, explore the Serengeti, hop a "gun-run" through Mozambique's civil war, raft Zambezi rapids and arrive in South Africa as Soweto erupts into violence.

It is humorous, anguished and brutally real. Nothing is painted in the typical writer's wide brush extolling one beautiful sunset or another glorious setting. This book exposes the humor and frustration of crossing a land where the rules change daily. The reader experiences first-hand the ups and downs of independent travel in a land still little-known by Western audiences.

On the other hand, it also lends a human face to the continent that is vastly different from the one portrayed in the news or non-profit commercials.

From the award-winning author of YAK BUTTER BLUES: A Tibetan Trek of Faith. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
AS THE TRAIN WENDED ITS WAY toward Dover's chalky cliffs, disapproving British eyes shot darts at the eight scruffy travelers. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mayra Calvani on 23 Mar. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Dead Men Don’t Leave Tips is the thrilling, captivating true tale of a honeymooned couple who quit their job, sell their home and cars, and leave everything behind to achieve a dream: cross Africa on a seven-month, 10,000-mile journey from Morocco to Cape Town.

Join professional travellers Wilson and Cheryl as they bargain with villagers, struggle with incompetent guides and government officials, pass sleepless nights in deplorable accommodations, cross the Sahara amidst sand storms and blistering heat, meet gorillas and Pygmies face to face, and climb Mount Kilimanjaro, reminding us all along that simple things such as a nice meal, a shower and getting cash can become the ultimate luxuries.

The tale is poignant with ironic humor and human drama. Each chapter begins with a witty, profound African proverb, and in the middle section the author includes interesting B&W photographs to complement his account and give a clearer picture of Africa’s sights and sounds.

What’s striking about Wilson’s books (he’s also the author of the IPPY Award winner Yak Butter Blues) is that his journeys are not only physical but highly spiritual as well. His are journeys of body and soul in every sense of the word. The author writes with honesty and a sharp eye for detail, making this an invaluable amalgam of information for readers of adventure travel or anybody who is considering “do-it-yourself” safaris or simply visiting Africa. Interlaced with this honesty and detail are Wilson’s beautiful prose, obvious passion for adventure and a deep inquisitiveness about other cultures, making this book a pleasure to read. Having already reviewed Wilson’s previous work, this reviewer is already looking forward to his next. Highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 26 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A rare journey into the heart of Africa 3 Nov. 2005
By C. W. Gortner - Published on
Format: Paperback
Brandon Wilson's DEAD MEN DON'T LEAVE TIPS is that rare event: a travel book that transcends its genre to become a transformative journey of the soul into a disparate and gorgeously challenging culture, as seen through the eyes of a man determined to experience life as it is, rather than as it's presented to us. Eschewing the typical tourist African safari, Wilson and his travel companion, along with a host of madcap dysfunctional fellow travelers, embark on a wildly funny, poignant, and at times terrifying, trip across the African continent. From the rapacious markets of Marrakesh to the stunning breadth of the Sahara and haunting domains of the Masai, Wilson brings to life in lucid prose the smells, sights, and sensations of being a foreigner in a strange land, who yearns for communion with the world he has set out to explore.

This is travel writing at its most sublime, a paean to Africa in all her contradictory beauty, and a tribute to the resiliancy of those who travel beyond boundaries not only in search of meaning, but also of understanding.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
The most boring and shallow travel account ever read 19 Feb. 2008
By Heoe - Published on
Format: Paperback
I bought this book following Amazon's reader reviews but found it a pain to read.
From the start the author can't bear the way he chose to travel (overlanding with a group) and his fellow travelers... well, when on a low budget, stay graceful! If one can't stand other human beings AND can't afford a way to travel suitable to both his arrogance and means, why do it anyway?

The "traveler" seems to wander through Africa with American centered prejudices and poor references of a narrow minded background.
The reader is continuously faced with his self centered obsession for his own boring motives (if any) that he thinks anyone cares about. He makes the reader witness all his irritations and frustration of a pure misanthrope, "forgot" to check the proper geography and history and spelling of the names of the countries he goes through, remains ignorant of the world, cultures and people and till the end totally misses the whole point of traveling.

Everything, even the slight excitement he seems to feel when encountering wild animals is awkwardly written, in dry insensitive words without style.

Oh, those hundreds of dull phrases in italic! Those infinitely repeated "burro" like donkeys have Spanish names in Africa, "black" like there's a need to remind us of the color of Africa's inhabitants.
What is Lake Kiva? Lake Tanzania? Are there really "caimans" in Africa? What is a "wild west town" to anyone not American? When were there only 700 black rhinos left? "Zaire, these days, after years of war, known as DRC": check exactly when the name changed? Victoria Falls, the world highest cascades? Since when does Michelin rate up to five stars? Any need to be condescending and transcript everyone's accent again and again while oneself has no clue about foreign languages? Any need to be rude, pushy and obnoxious when addressing people?

In this long boring account of what seems to have been an ordeal to him that we are forced to share, the only human encounter that seems to have somewhat pleased the ever complaining author are... another white couple traveling and Whites in South Africa.

This is a shallow disappointing report that would disgust anyone who wishes to travel to Africa.
Thanks God we know better.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining and Enjoyable 1 April 2006
By Shirley Priscilla Johnson - Published on
Format: Paperback
This was my first experience reading about the travel adventures written by Brandon Wilson and I have to say it was one enjoyable one.

We are taken with Brandon and Cheryl Wilson as they travel the length of Africa. We start our adventure right from the beginning and all the woes that transpire in preparation and sometimes some of the unfortunate, like Brandon catching the flu. Once aboard for the true beginning of their adventure they are grouped with nearly two dozen people who in themselves are a story ready to be written.

Then our couple goes it on their own and it is here that they truly get into the meat of their journey, meeting natives, experiencing incredible landmarks and truly tasting of Africa.

This work is very well-written, is brimming with giggles and down to earth reality and the photos bring the reality of the read to life. I enjoyed this one; I believe you will too.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Africa brought to life 11 Nov. 2005
By Dr. Robert Rich - Published on
Format: Paperback
Dead Men Don't Leave Tips

by Brandon Wilson

I've read travel stories by Brandon Wilson before, so knew I'd be entertained, amused and instructed. His story of a crossing of Africa did not disappoint me.

Leaving domesticity in Hawaii, Brandon and his brand new wife Cheryl joined what proved to be the do it yourself safari from hell. From the hot dry hell of the Sahara to the humid hell of the jungle, through starving villages and squalid cities, we follow a picturesque group of pilgrims. Brandon's writing makes the reader feel the heat, the discomfort and even despair, while giving one laugh after another. Living it was difficult. Reading about it isn't. If I wrote about the travails of camping beside a swamp infested with malaria-bearing mosquitoes, I might bring tears to your eyes, and have you grit your teeth. Brandon gives you a belly laugh instead.

Not that it was all misery. It is clear that Brandon and Cheryl felt well rewarded for their endurance. His passages about wildlife, scenery and friendly people sometimes approach the poetic.

Like all good writing, this book does a lot more than entertain. One would expect to learn about Africa -- its people, animals, landscape -- from a travel book, but, without lecturing Brandon gets us to see social conditions; the gap between rich and poor, urban and starving. Racially, he is colorblind, with respect for all people, while sometimes justly indignant about cruel or exploitative behavior.

The language is always lively and entertaining, clear and lucid with amusing little word-paintings: `a Swiss cheese swatch of dirt road;' `we were finally waved on our way-and after only four hours;' and `It was a sleepy place-so quiet you could almost hear trouble simmering.'

Brandon is a writer with the eye of an artist, a basic decency and social conscience that in another book made him the champion of the suppressed Tibetan people. He has the humor of a cartoonist and the old fashioned ability to tell a good story. I strongly recommend this one to you.

About the reviewer: Dr Bob Rich is a multiple award-winning writer and professional editor [...]
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A True African Adventure... 10 Mar. 2006
By Hadley Goodman - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a well traveled person myself, I was originally interested in reading "Dead Men Don't Leave Tips" as a guide for planning an upcoming trip to Africa. Once well into the book, it became more than a guide to Africa, but an in-depth, often times laugh-out-loud humorous look at the pitfalls of group travel in such a magical country.

Brandon Wilson's sense of adventure and colorful use of imagery leaves the reader eager to turn the page to see what happens to this motley crew next. Although entertained by the antics of this group I was much relieved when he and his partner were able to break free from their travel companions and I reveled in their independent spirit. I cringed right along with him at the "Ugly Americans" he described as his fellow Overlanders, and I danced with the tribes they met along the way. I felt the nervousness of the unknown as he traded money on the black market, and the frustration of being scammed by the young locals in the busy street markets. I found myself thirsty as they crossed the Sahara, and eager for a shower as they went weeks without access to proper facilities. I gasped for breath as they summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, and relished in relief and accomplishment on the descent. But most of all, I felt the thrill of experiencing a magical cultural found off the beaten path in the depths of Africa.

Wilson clearly depicts the highs and lows of experiencing other cultures, and I thoroughly enjoyed (and learned from) his experiences. Traveling through Africa is not for the weak at heart, and "Dead Men Don't Leave Tips" is a great place to start learning how to navigate through such an unpredictable adventure. Through it all, I look forward to planning my upcoming adventure, and feel certain it won't include an Overland Outfitter.
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