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Brian Row McNamee

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With Pythons & Head-Hunters In Borneo, The Quest For Mount Tiban
by Brian Row McNamee   

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Publisher:  Xlibris Corporation ISBN-10:  1436324203 Type: 


Copyright:  August 5, 2008 ISBN-13:  9781436324205

Award Winner in the Travel-Cultural category of the National Best Books 2008 Awards sponsored by USA Book News: A riveting piece of adventure writing, With Pythons & Head-Hunters in Borneo, The Quest for Mount Tiban, is the thrilling narrative of the 2003 & 2006 journeys deep into the heart of Borneo, made by the author and his remarkable indigenous guides.

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With Pythons & Head-Hunters in Borneo

This is a classic travel narrative - long river voyages and foot trekking expeditions with the ultimate goal of scaling the mysterious & allegedly haunted Mount Tiban located near the jungly border between Malaysia and Indonesia.  Following in the footsteps of comedy-adventure writer Redmond O'Hanlon's 1983 expedition, the author braves dangerous rivers, deadly diseases, pestiferous insects, leeches, wild animals, venomous snakes & pythons in an attempt to become the first Westerner to scale Tiban since naturalist-explorer Eric Mjoberg in 1925.

Brilliantly tying together his own intrepid expeditions with fascinating quotes from famous historic predecessors to include: White Rajahs, District Officers, naturalist-scientists, military soldiers, writers, missionaries, and explorers, the author takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride of emotions while putting together a uniquely complete history of Sarawak, Borneo.


Professional Reviews - A trip to Borneo for the armchair traveler, colorfully and wittily told
If you've ever dreamed of setting off on an expedition to explore remote reaches of the tropics, but don't have the time, money, or mettle to do it yourself, read this book--it's the next-best thing. In With Pythons & Head-Hunters in Borneo, talented story-teller Brian Row McNamee recounts his adventures in the mountainous jungles of Sarawak, Malaysia in dazzingly vivid detail. As educational as it is entertaining--and, as a bonus, frequently hilarious--this book has all the components of a great travel narrative.
With Pythons & Head-Hunters in Borneo is a colorful and witty account of the author's two journeys to Borneo, the second of which included an attempt to locate and scale remote Mount Tiban. In the course of his travels, McNamee was bitten raw by land-going leeches, witnessed an indigenous "baptism" celebration which involved dipping an infant into fresh pig viscera, and looked on in horror as members of his expedition party feasted on an endangered gibbon. He spent a great deal of time with the recent descendants of actual head-hunters--their longhouses are still adorned with human skulls--and saw a few pythons. This is the stuff of culture shock, to be sure, and McNamee has captured the disorientation and wonder he experienced on the lush island in rich sensory detail. The reader can clearly picture the bustling wharfs of provincial Sarawak towns, down to the live chickens, and practically feel the oppressive humidity. McNamee's interactions with Dyak tribespeople provide plenty of situational humor--at one point, his porter implores him to treat an aching knee with Western medicine from his first aide kit, and McNamee is forced to use jock itch cream as a placebo. The humor is, in my opinion, one of the most endearing aspects of the book.
In addition to the travel narrative, With Pythons & Head-Hunters is an excellent introduction to the history, geography, and wildlife of Borneo. The narrative is interspersed with facts about unique plants and animals indigenous to the island and informative (if somewhat condescending) descriptions of the native peoples written by 19th-century ethnographers, as well as other background information. My sole criticism of the book is that sometimes the "background information" intrudes too far into the foreground. While the historical and cultural information is interesting and relevant, quotes from other books frequently become too lengthy. It's almost as if the author doesn't quite trust his own voice--which is a shame, because he's well-spoken and has many fascinating stories to tell.
One last thing--the National Geographic Society turned down Brian Row McNamee's requests for funding for his expeditions, twice. Boy, did they miss out!

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