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Pecked To Death By Ducks

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,384 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
In his latest tour of the earth's remote, exotic, and dismal places, the author of Road Fever and A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg, sleeps with a grizzly bear, witnesses demonic possession in Bali, and survives a run-in with something called the Throne of Doom in Guatemala. Vivid and outrageously funny.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Black Swan (first published 1993)
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It took me forever to finish this book -- and I can't really figure out why. I like it, it's interesting, funny, and well-written. It just failed to... capture me. I suspect that I'm not terribly familar with personalities like TC's. When I read travel memoirs, they're usually more Bill Bryson-esque -- inept people falling over logs -- or Tony Horwitz-esque -- passionate intellectual dorks mixing humor and social commentary.

In contrast, I suspect TC has a beard. An unironic beard. I suspect ever
Bookworm Smith
This book has a number of pros and a number of cons. My opinion flip flopped from good to bad as I read through the 300 or so pages. I eventually settled on a Do Not Read...although there were many parts I really it's a very tentative Do Not Read. In other words, I might recommend it to a specific person but not to everyone I know.
The title is what initially drew me in. Pecked to Death by Ducks - that sounds funny. Then I noticed a comment on the cover comparing Cahill's writing to
Rex Fuller
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Halfway up the face of El Capitan, Yosemite, the climbing partner above him needs to relieve himself. Tempting the glacier to ice-bomb his kayak in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Finding his snowshoes ineffective going up the White Mountains, New Hampshire. Nightly dancing his version of the lambada–the “cowboy” lambada–to music from a radio hooked to a car battery with a shy teen girl high up in Peru’s Andes. Taking paragliding lessons “to float upon the wind, high above the mute and pitiless clay.” Cavi ...more
Scott Bischke
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recalling this book from long ago, loved it as I seem to love most of Cahill's writing. He has a great knack for capturing the essence of being in the outdoors, often focusing on adventure in the outdoors, in a unique and insightful and fun(ny!) way. Here's an example:
What happens in the woods is this: The mind is forced to deal with certain niggling but elemental details. Those things we take for granted--shelter, food, basic conveniences, comfort, brute survival--require all our attention a
N W James
Jun 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
tim cahill is my favorite travel journalist. Yes, he gets all macho sometimes, but mostly he digs into the humor and the genuine belonging he finds with the people he pulls these stunts with for a paycheck. He may go into war torn or gang torn parts of the world to get a story, but he comes out of it writing like a poet every single time. If you're not sure what I mean, get this book and read Baja by Kayak, page 172.

They get swarmed by wasps, they tip into the Pacific, they get lost after dark
This book has been on my “to be read” list for a long time. Too long, as it turns out, just like when you leave a bottle of wine in the closet for ages because you’re “saving it.” At a certain point, it’ll never be as good as it might have been had you’d opened it in good time. Not only do several of essays in this collection show their age, but there is a sameness to Cahill’s writing– to his observations, his commentary, his sense of humor – that wears more than a bit thin. Pecked to Death by D ...more
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, travel
I'm not sure why I didn't like this book more. It seemed great "on paper"'s a collection of essays about traveling around the world, and I usually love that type of thing. It's funny at some parts and very serious at others, which I also like, and it really made me think. Cahill provides an interesting blend of facts/research with personal anecdotes. For some reason, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would (perhaps it was my mood?), but I still found it worthwhile.
Mar 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read this book because I like Tim Cahill, and because of the crazy title. The author does a lot of writing for "outdoorsy" magazines. Knowing that about the author made this book that much more believable and added to my enjoyment of it. Personally, I don't think you can fully enjoy a travel novel if its overly embellished. If ya like mountain climbing, spelunking, para-sailing, falconry, kayaking, or anything really cool, you should read this.
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
My favorite title of all his books.
Steven Williams
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book helped me realize my dream of one day owning a llama ranch.
Feb 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection of worst trip ever essays, is inspirational in its theme, what not to do.
Ben Lund
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
First off, this is NOT a humor book, however, there are moments of inadvertent humor through the (mis)adventures of the author. Some stories elicited a involuntary chuckle, and I did smile through some of the stories. I don't think the author's goal was to be funny, but rather to shine a light on some of the silly things people do around the world.
And I liked it. It was interesting, it was fun to stomp around to various islands and mountains and caves, the writing is well done, it gives you a g
Sep 05, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tim Cahill is a guy lucky enough to be sent out into various parts of the world, experience outdoorsy types of activities (usually with some level of danger) & get paid to write about it.

The book is divided into sections called "The Unnatural World", "Tooth & Claw", "The Natural World", "Other People's Lives" and "Risk" -- giving the reader a good overview of his travels & experiences.

Cahill is an adrenaline junkie - several of the essays revolve around rock climbing/rope work, but
Sep 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, travel, 2013, 2014
Pecked To Death By Ducks, Tim Cahill's third collection of travel essays, is an interesting, if uneven read. Cahill is well travelled - the book contains stories about places ranging from the South Pacific to Europe to Central America to Antarctica to the wilds of America. He is also an avid climbing and caver, and many of his stories provide a look at activities I know little about. However, like many collections of essays, especially collections by the same author, Pecked To Death By Ducks suf ...more
Seth Madej
The magazine pieces in this collection, which are mostly too short to be satisfying in book form, deal less than I expected with travel and more with the outdoors and adventure sports. Unfortunately there are very few things less interesting to read about than someone else's hikes and camping trips. Even stories of rappelling, parasailing, or skydiving mostly all boil down to "I was in a situation in which I should've been falling, but some sort of equipment prevented that." But Cahill's a skill ...more
John Humber
The title is the most mildly amusing thing about this book. That it has no connection whatever to the content is close to deception in my view. Like others here I was expecting something at least mildly amusing; it's not. It's well written, yes, but not amusing.

The book is collection of travel-related tales which were written for various magazines. All through, even though I'd never heard of Tim Cahill, I kept on getting a "this is very familiar" feeling as I read. It is familiar. The stories ar
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Highly enjoyable, both for the writing, which was excellent, and the general tone of the attitude toward the various adventury things that the author is doing: "yes, they're kind of crazy. Possibly very crazy. And you are allowed to think I'm insane. I think I'm a little insane too, it's okay."

Makes it much better than it could have been, had it gone with preachiness about how everyone needs to get out of their comfort zone and get the blood flowing.

Instead, I will sit in my comfort zone, and a
Jul 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
In fairness, I only read a few stories in this book. It's a collection of short stories from all over the world, the author present in all of them. The stories are fine but I can't seem to get into it. Perhaps I'm simply in novel mode right now. The stories are adventures, for the most part.

The broad categories in the book, per the contents page, are: The Unnatural World, Tooth and claw, The Natural World, Other People's Lives, Risk. I'm ready to move on to a novel and am passing this book alon
Jul 31, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like it when Cahill is in a cave, inching his way forward in the dark or hanging from a rope on El Capitan, because the resulting prose has a bite in it. The more fearful the situation, the meatier his prose is for me. The Marquesas and Bali pieces seem too tame--too blissed-out--in comparison--but after all the dangerous situations he's placed himself in, I figure the tropical island pieces are his rewards--and I enjoy reading the man enjoy his rewards for a job well-done.
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seriously, how was I not going to pick this book up off the bargain shelf?

Turns out, it's an early 90's travel/adventure essay collection by a former editor of Outside Magazine, which is so totally up my alley that I occasionally found myself making plans to try some of his crazy stunts before remembering that I am an out of shape clutz who once broke her leg trying to flintstone-stop a snowmobile. Perhaps I'll just pick up another of Cahill's books...
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
The very best thing about this book is the title. The author is an adventure-junky/journalist and, although I thoroughly enjoyed some of the places and situations he managed to get himself into, I did not enjoy his style. His self-centered and uber-macho personality left me unimpressed. BTW: If you read these vignettes, skip the first two. They are disturbing and unpleasant.
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It is brilliantly funny and clever reflection of reality as perceived by a traveller that is really living his life to the full. He can see the irony of life and is so realistic about it, as well as himself and in the way he describes his interactions with others, that you feel you have lived life through him.
Nathan Eaton
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: outdoors, animals, 2015
Bears, kayaks, jail - this one has a little of it all. Cahill does a good job compiling this collection of articles he's written. It's well constructed and easy to follow.

He has a way of writing one article that will make you laugh out loud, and then another with a somber and heart-wrenching feel. This is the second Cahill I've read, and I believe I'll be looking for more in the future.
January Carroll
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All and sundry
Tim Cahill's writing is one part Pat MacManus and two parts Hunter S. Thompson's journalistic writing. The prose is lovely and rich, and the wit varies between sardonic and self-deprecating. which makes the book both poignant and wildly hilarious. All of his books that I have read (with the exception of "Buried Dreams", which gave me nightmares)are wonderful and thought provoking.
Bethany Stoelting
Hilarious, fun, informative, short stories that are a must read when traveling or even to feel as if youre traveling when at home. Loved it! Cahill paints such incredible pictures with his words, a true artist of literature. ...more
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent collection of essays. I particularly enjoyed "Fly Away" in the section entitled 'Risk' and "Lechuguilla" from 'The Natural World'. Cahill makes you want to get off of your ass and go do something...anything...before it all disappears.
Jun 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Tim Cahill is a travel adventure writer and this a compilation of short stories which he published as magazine articles. Bizzare, high risk, or who would think of this idea; plus some thoughtful descriptions of people and places.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it liked it
An interesting collection of travel stories and stories of personal insight. Not all were my choice of subject matter but most kept me entertained and taught me a lot about different cultures, dangerous sports and a selection of animals. Quite a range of topics!
Apr 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
A good variety of Cahill whose rating would have been higher had I read it twenty years earlier. It still ages well, however, and Cahill's reputation as a humorous and quirky travel writer is well earned.
Aggie Herda
Tim Cahill is a great story teller. Widely traveled, this is a collection of his stories from his journeys, some informative, some humorous, but all entertaining.
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Tim Cahill (born 1944 in Nashville, Tennessee) is a travel writer who lives in Livingston, Montana, United States. He is a founding editor of Outside magazine and currently serves as an "Editor at Large" for the magazine.
More about Tim Cahill...
“It was a great place to run red lights, which I count as a fine recreational activity.” 1 likes
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