4 out of 4 stars
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Man Mission: Four Men, Fifteen Years, One Epic Journey is about four friends who envision to go on a yearly adventure trip to escape from the stresses of their daily lives. The four are Sam, Daniel, Alec, and the unnamed storyteller I presume is based on the author Eytan Uliel, an extensive traveler himself and a lawyer like the character.
The plan was “to go to a food and outdoor activity trip, where they would do something wild and crazy and wouldn’t have to shower or shave for a whole week.” Wild and crazy indeed. They go off the beaten path and push themselves to the limit physically. They hike, cycle, climb and go sailing and white water rafting. They eat exotic foods from exotic places like Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Korea, Peru, and Vietnam. Rules and rituals were created along the way like eating a large steak after each trip, and the one who “whines” will wear a pink bracelet. The four Australian men did this on a span of fifteen years. As you may have guessed this book is full of testosterone where the boys with big egos are “doing guy things and being real men”.
I love how the story flows and the author does a good job in describing the scene that I feel that I am with them on every journey. I feel the excitement, anxiety and their discomfort and pain when injured and when they all got sick because of the high altitude going to Machu Picchu. I laugh at their antics and most of all, enjoy the exotic places that make me want to travel and see for myself and add them to my travel bucket list. The narrative goes back and forth from their trip to the backstories of their normal city lives. You would see them get married, change jobs, have babies, and later on even get divorced, lose a loved one, have a mid-life crisis and all other personal and professional triumphs and drama. Through it all, the bond of these four friends remains strong and steadfast.
This is not only a travel adventure story but also an emotional journey of man’s realizations in growing up, finding himself, facing trials and accepting the realities of life. That life, like hiking, is full of ups and downs, and sometimes you are injured but you need to get up again and again. Sometimes, the going gets tough but it is worth it when you reach the top. That one should not be afraid of change but to live in the moment and live fully.
What I liked about this book is that the characters are realistic and they each have their own unique personality. They have dreams of success and of having the perfect family. They are driven but make mistakes like every human being and they are the typical men who act like children sometimes. Having said that, I am amazed at their attitudes because of how they think and act, which really validates the saying that "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus". I mean, you wouldn't see women laugh when their friend rolls down a cliff or call them pathetic when they limp because of an injury. What I disliked is that I feel the "macho mentality" is a little over-the-top.
I recommend this book to those who enjoy light reading and travel stories. Do not expect suspense or espionage. This seems to be professionally edited and I am confident that readers will find this enjoyable to read as I did. I am happy to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
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