Dear Mr Len!

Non-Fiction - Travel
204 Pages
Reviewed on 08/31/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Francis Mont for Readers' Favorite

Dear Mr. Len! by Len Wilson, who “is widely acknowledged as a great storyteller according to his friends”, is an entertaining and educational collection of the author’s travel stories. This book takes the reader across Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. His stories document his travels and he divides his attention among people he met; the history of the countries; and the natural landscapes. He calls himself a traveler, as opposed to a tourist, because he takes the time to immerse himself in the entirety of the places he visits, rather than just seek out ‘fun’ places. He often foregoes the expensive and luxurious accommodations and modes of travel, so he sees a lot more from the slow local trains than tourists could from the super-fast luxury coaches. The book is highly informative and enlightening, especially about the past histories of the places he visited. The 19 black-and-white photographs in the book add to the enjoyable experience of reading Dear Mr. Len!

What I liked most in this collection of travel stories were the history lessons that didn’t mince any words about the worst dictators and atrocities history books like to skate around because, as he says, “history is written by those who want you to think that they were the winners.” I learned an awful lot about countries I hardly knew anything about, like Azerbaijan, Mongolia, San Marino, or Morocco. His descriptions are vivid and evocative, often laced with tongue-in-cheek humor or laconic observations that somehow manage to convey the bizarre and outlandish situations. He spent 40 years visiting 35 countries and I have to admire his perseverance, despite the numerous times he was robbed, swindled, and abused during some of his trips. I recommend Dear Mr. Len! by Len Wilson to anyone who would like to travel from the comfort and safety of their own living room couches.

Divine Zape

Dear Mr. Len! by Len Wilson is a fascinating story for fans of travel and adventure and readers just looking for something fun. This travel memoir follows the author’s journeys worldwide, starting from his first trip to China in 1977 as part of a program for New Zealand’s university graduate students. The author shares stories of his travels for more than forty years, bringing readers his exciting finds, adventures, discoveries, and hilarious experiences. Readers don't have to tackle Dear Mr. Len! chronologically because each chapter contains its own tale. Each story is set in a different country, and in each of these stories, the author explores something unique about the place, geography, perspective, culture, and human intercourse.

Dear Mr. Len! is replete with history and socio-cultural reflections, but what caught my attention is the author’s ability to communicate humor in a way that augments the entertainment the stories provide. Whether it is about the naughty tour guide, the empire of the sun, getting lost in Tijuana, unusual adventures in Cuba, the uniqueness of Easter Island, the world’s oldest republic, or any other story, Len Wilson absorbs the reader with his solid and captivating voice. The writing is not only gorgeous but exotic, and readers will enjoy the vivid descriptions of places and people, encounters that explore language barriers, cultural differences, and the process of adapting to new landscapes and situations. Overall, it is exuberant, passionately told, and utterly enthralling. Dear Mr. Len! will make readers want to pack their bags and travel.

Pikasho Deka

Dear Mr. Len! is a non-fiction book that charts author Len Wilson's adventures while traveling the world for decades. From visiting China as a student in the late 70s to witnessing the Trump presidency, Wilson's tale involves countries all over the globe with wildly varying socio-economic, religious, cultural, and political backgrounds. After seeing Kim Jong-un's reign in isolated North Korea, Wilson travels to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, where he finds himself intrigued by the concept of the country's unique Gross National Product (GNP). Whether he's getting scammed by hawkers in India, robbed in Turkey, or losing money in Thailand, Wilson has a tale to tell from every country he visits, often infusing them with humor to make for an entertaining narrative.

Dear Mr. Len! is one of those books that will make you want to pack your bags, book a flight, and set off for the places you've wanted to go and explore forever. Filled with wit and humor, author Len Wilson's writing style makes for an engaging reading experience. He succinctly recounts the bloody history of countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, Myanmar's tedious bureaucracy, and vividly describes the unexplored terrains of Russia, Mongolia, and China. While Wilson's experiences felt intimate and personal, my favorite aspect of the book was that he also provides relevant commentary on the region's cultural, religious, geopolitical, and historical elements. This makes Dear Mr. Len! both entertaining and informative. If you enjoy exploring different places and cultures, I highly recommend it.

Astrid Iustulin

Who doesn't love to travel? I think that taking a trip to any country in the world is a unique experience to get to know new cultures and people. However, traveling is not always easy, especially if the places are far away or expensive to reach. When it is not possible to visit a country in person, reading the experiences of those who have been there allows you to imagine and dream. This is what happens to those who read Len Wilson's book, Dear Mr. Len! Written with vivacity and wit, Dear Mr. Len! collects decades of travel adventures in many countries around the world.

Dear Mr. Len! is a book that I enjoyed from beginning to end. I have always adored traveling, but I have never been lucky enough to have a travel companion capable of the subtle and witty attention to detail that Len Wilson possesses. Thanks to Dear Mr. Len! I went to countries I never thought of visiting, and I discovered things I did not know. I enjoyed these discoveries a lot, mainly because they are not limited to a single country or continent but have taken me to all corners of the earth. If you are a curious reader like me, you will have fun meeting many different cultures and ways of life with Len Wilson. Dear Mr. Len! is a memorable read for all those who love to travel, and I recommend it to anyone who wishes to take a tour of our beautiful planet.

Jessica Barbosa

Dear Mr. Len! by Len Wilson is a quirky collection of tales that features Len’s adventures around the world and his memorable interactions with various unique characters. The first chapter “At Home With Little Rocket Man!” gives us a glimpse of Len’s visit to North Korea and his inner, funny musings as to what was happening around him. The rest of the chapters give an interesting insight into the different places and people Len visits and interacts with and, along the way, they teach us something new about every place he visits.

Len Wilson’s Dear Mr. Len is an intriguing, first-person narrative that took me on an unexpected adventure through different parts of the world. Len Wilson is witty and creative in his storytelling, unafraid to put his thoughts and experiences onto paper. His unique writing style gives readers a unique perspective of the world and his easy pacing suits the stories he tells. I was constantly surprised by the variety of short stories I found in this book and I was intrigued by the fountain of knowledge I uncovered from each page I flipped. Dear Mr. Len covers more than just places; it puts the actions of people under a microscope too. This book imparts not only knowledge and the history of different places in the world, with funny anecdotes on the side, but also offers me interesting stories of the people who inhabit these varying places. There are educational stories, funny stories, and sometimes even tragic ones and they come together like puzzle pieces to form a unique collection of tales that are hard to forget.