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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.