Chris Oldfield’s ‘Dogs of Nam’ Book Review

I don’t normally share book reviews on my site. However, whenever I run into a fellow travel blogger who has written a new book, I always like to give it a read. Fortunately, Chris gave me an exclusive peek at his book out now!

I’m sharing my review on ‘Dogs of Nam’ because I believe if you enjoy reading my stories, you will also enjoy reading his. Our style is very similar in that we dive into the truth and realities of travel that isn’t often shared in the glitz and glamour of internet travel writing.

Without further ado, my review of Chris’ new book:

“Travel writing, as enlightening as it can be, tends to impose a narrative where there may not be one, as if life was somehow coaxed into following a script. If that’s what you are in search of then please put this book down and look somewhere else.”

He has a plan, of sorts, at least. Rather, he seemingly chases the unordinary around the world. Around the whole world. From some of the most unusual places like the desert of Mongolia to small islands you’ve never heard of. From a monastery of Japan to the mountains of Costa Rica. Whether it’s traversing the open road of the United States or hoofing across Rome; Oldfield has a story for every instance, packed with loops and twists you’d never expect, but true to any traveler’s non-Instagram-able experiences.

You’ll catch yourself asking how and why he ended up in almost every situation he comes by. “But over the years, I’ve learned to fall in love with chaos.” A sentiment of a real explorer – one not daunted enough by the typical tourist route. You’ll admire his thirst for genuine experiences – the types of experiences money can’t buy and travel guides can’t tell you about.

Oldfield writes in a voice unapologetically honest, one that often ridicules his own decisions, teeming with comedic relief. However, what he tells is important. He tells the story like it needs to be told – to make up for the lack of honesty in the travel blogging world. Backpacking isn’t always a cake walk, and he catches the beauty of that perfectly in his lessons abroad. And those lessons learned often come at his own expense.

We hear stories of the bouts he has traveling as a vegan, stories of staring down wildlife predators, and stories of literally saving lives. He’s seen it all, he’s been through it all, he tells it all, and it’s because he isn’t afraid to challenge himself as he goes. “But that’s the difference between a vacation and travel. One is an escape. The other is a challenge.”

For the budget-minded backpacker, Oldfield’s style will heavily resonate. You will feel as though he is writing inside your mind as you try to work out savvy ways to get around things. For the veteran traveler, his stories will remind you of your own. Oldfield is, obviously, tried and true on the road. And for the armchair traveler, his words will inspire you to join ‘us’; the vagabonds of the world.

As the title ‘Dogs of Nam’ suggests, we wander. Spending our days in the unknown. What Oldfield has done is link a community together. A group of free-spirits who can relate or want to know the challenges of the road – the other side of the peachy Instagrams. The side of traveling that you can’t see until you do it yourself – that is, until ‘Dogs of Nam’. He takes us on a disastrously wonderful ride with its share of nightmares and lessons to be learned. But in the end, ‘Dogs of Nam’ shows us the beauty in it all.

“Our stories were intertwined, yet the world at large felt so unfamiliar. Distant, unfocused, and forever out of reach. I suppose a part of me was in search of the unsearchable, those moments only found when you least expect them: when you are buried in the present, swept away by the current of being. Those moments are electric. They serve as emotional kindling, keeping the fires in us burning; they keep the night at bay.”

All of us have familiarity. Oldfield nailed it. It’s a wonderful read for any kind of traveler – especially those not interested in the souped-up version, but rather a real account of a tried-explorer. Don’t take my word for it, read it yourself.

Adam J. Cheshier
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Adam J. Cheshier

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