World's Most Dangerous Places
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Robert Young Pelton has been to more than 80 countries, trying to see through his own eyes the causes and consequences of the world's greatest conflicts. Read the dangerous travel addict's answers below.
photos copyright © Robert Young Pelton

 

What is the most repeated question in your interviews?

They usually ask me what is the most dangerous place or when were you most scared. Journos want to go for the "ultimate" to avoid doing the basic questioning that would help them better understand. The most dangerous place depends on many things but I usually tell them that when I was in Grozny with the Chechen rebels during the Russian siege. Observers counted around 7000 impacts an hour (Stalingrad was around 6000 and much bigger city). So that is the only quantified measurement of danger I have found.

How has attending St. John's shaped and helped prepare you for your future and career?
It taught me that hardship is a part of everyday life and there really are no limits to learning or growth.

Is marriage and having a family to come home to the "ultimate defense" for traveling to dangerous places?

Without a normal life I think I would be considered abnormal. I think that is one reason why I can be so rational and maybe even thoughtful about being in war zones.

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How has luck helped you stay alive? In Uganda, after surviving a bombing in a place where you were in just minutes ago, do you feel that something made you get up and leave or do you attribute this to "just" luck? How much of this is a kind of "instinct" and is this kind of gut feeling something you've learned to trust?
Luck is an intangible but a statistical reality. You can't really call being targeted for a bomb attack lucky (maybe if I had won the lottery!). I think you also develop an instinct for human nature and can sense when there is something wrong. Of course you are only allowed one mistake.

Before the dangerous travels, you worked in marketing. Is it true you were involved in the launch of the Macintosh?

I worked as a Designer/producer for multimedia companies that did product launches. Apple hired us to launch the Lisa first and then when I changed companies Apple hired me to work on the launch of the Macintosh. I worked directly with Steve Jobs and the Apple team but obviously I can't take any credit for the hardware or concept. Jobs and I are very similar in temperament, age and outlook so we butted heads nicely.

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