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2010 BOOK OF THE YEAR BRONZE AWARD
ForeWord Reviews

Review Excerpts for
Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps by Brandon Wilson

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“My favorite kind of adventure tale: Against all odds, in the face of health, weather, interpersonal, navigational and culinary issues, Brandon Wilson and his somewhat reluctant wife hike it because it’s there – or, it’s supposed to be. I laughed, I winced, and then I started checking to see when I was next scheduled to be anywhere near the Via Alpina.” ~ Kyle Wagner, travel editor, The Denver Post

“…Brandon Wilson explores not just three, but pushes the alpine experience to extremes by traversing eight countries, and they have been fortunate for this laureate. Wilson brings his considerable intellect and wry sense of humor to this epic adventure, and the result is brilliantly accessible and wonderfully subversive." ~ Richard Bangs, legendary adventurer/ author of Quest for the Sublime, PEAKS and other books that celebrate travel & adventure, (richardbangs.com)

"This lighthearted hiking narrative reflects the positives of such an experience: overcoming hardship, laughing at their inability to find trail blazes, Europe's apparent fear of switchbacks on trails ascending 1000-plus meters per col, and the bond and struggle with your trail partner. Another celebration of simply putting one foot in front of the other with everything you need on your back and faith in the trail ahead.… Recommended for armchair travelers and anyone interested in hiking the Alps."
~ Library Journal

“Marvelous account of the long hike across the roof of Europe…told with a fine eye for detail and a keen sense of humor.” ~ Royal Robbins, rock climbing pioneer


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“Loved the humor, gutsiness and joie de vivre.” ~ Ron Strickland, founder of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail and author of Leave A Trail

"Thanks to Wilson's gritty and often comedic portrayal of events and the characters they come across (like Mr. and Mrs. Mustache and their snails), Over the Top & Back Again suggests that maybe a little madness isn't too crazy after all." ~ Sarah Esterman, WEND Magazine

“Informative, entertaining, and original. Award-winning author Brandon Wilson is a pioneer in a groundbreaking genre of travel writing." ~ Richard R. Blake, Midwest Book Review


"Readers with a passion for the outdoors will particularly enjoy
Over the Top & Back Again… Wilson's casual writing style showcases his humor and pulls readers into his tales of dangerous treks, eccentric characters, and uncooperative weather. For outdoor enthusiasts, this book will awaken the travel bug within and inspire adventure. For others, it's a worthwhile armchair journey through beautiful country with friendly guides." ~ ForeWord Reviews, naming it Book of the Year Bronze Award winner (travel essays)


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“Wilson walks the way Forrest Gump runs. He's driven to it… As for the connection between the outer journey and the inner journey, Wilson never pushes it. You get it in small bits, as he does, because that's the way it comes. It has a lot to do with savoring the simple pleasures of life that surround us every day. Wilson's books point the way toward this happy state of mind: just be bold and endure a few vicissitudes.” ~ Stephen Hartshorne, GoNOMAD.com read entire review

“Wilson is my favorite travel writer…Difficult to put it down. Throughout there is a sense of suspense in this wild adventure. This is perfect for armchair travelers as well as those who aspire to hike the same trail.” ~ Rebecca Review, Amazon Top 10 Reviewer




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"Beware of muscle pain... in the belly, from laughing too much! …Full of idealism and tenderness towards human nature. With maps, unusual photos (black and white) and hilarious cartoons to top it off, the book is devoured much quicker than it takes to do the hike!"
~ Nathalie Morelle, Association Via Alpina, France/UK


"Wilson is the king of ‘tell it like it is’ travel writing! Few writers admit their missteps and appreciate that readers really do want to know what happens on a long arduous trek, be it scary, life changing or just downright painful. You'll feel the chill from the sleet, steam from the shower and the aroma wafting from a well-earned meal as you trek along from chapter to chapter!” ~ Donna Coomer, Between the Lines Reviews, Scotland

"Walking jazz – improvisation at its best, with stunning high notes (it's the Alps!) and a trill of rain and wet, slick rythmns. Played by ear, backed by deep experience, and a persistent off beat. (And, a lot of humor)... it rocks." ~
Kathy Gower, American Pilgrims

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"Their teamwork, love of the great outdoors and their courage makes this a hi-octane travel adventure story unlike any other I have read. Go buy Brandon's book but I am warning you. Come prepared for a "heart stopping, blood boiling" real life expedition. Make sure you have plenty of warm rainproof gear on and four months of food and water nearby. You will need it. " ~ Neville J. Tencer, Co-Author of An Italian Odyssey: One Couple's Culinary & Cultural Pilgrimage, Canada

"Brandon Wilson's one-of-a-kind adventure makes you want to grab your walking stick, step into your hiking boots and climb a mountain."
~ Christopher Elliott, syndicated travel writer

“A gift to hikers… Bravo to this adventurous pair for putting "normal" life on hold so that they could trek the backbone of the Alps and bring this insightful tale to us.”
~ Susan Alcorn, author of Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago

“Wilson’s ultimate test, full of discovery, fear, laughter and, of course, a few tears, too…Fans of his other books will take much delight. It will please young and old alike…” ~ Jessica Roberts, Bookpleasures.com, UK






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Seeing this ruggedly beautiful and challenging part of the world from ground level, and at walking speed, also produces a frame of mind that lives in the moment, reveres nature and appreciates the small stuff, reminiscent of 19th-century American trailblazer Henry David Thoreau… It's great fun trekking through the Alps with the Wilsons… They do all the hard work — and we get all the pleasures — all rendered with warmth, insight and humor in Brandon’s inimitable style.” ~ Rick Chatenever, Entertainment & Features Editor, The Maui News

“Wilson has reached his pinnacle of achievement, both in his wonderfully written story and the adventure… A tale both grand and simple, both exciting and humorous, both real and spectacular.”
~ Jim Damico, WanderingtheWorld.com, Mongolia

“Many travel books entice readers to follow in the writer's footsteps. Bryson and Theroux have contributed to a global rise in train and towpath travel and Paolo Coelho's "Pilgrimage" and Hape Kerkeling's "I'm Off Then" sent thousands of copy-cat peregrinos from Brazil and Germany onto the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in Spain. This latest offering from Brandon Wilson could start an avalanche of adventure hikers on the Via Alpina!
" ~ Silvia Nilsen, author of Your Camino, master long-distance trekker, South Africa

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“In his very literate style, Brandon Wilson always transcends the mundane and the ordinary. At the same time, he makes his grassroots travel experiences fully accessible to the mind and imagination of the reader… A dramatic but also very humorous story which proves once again how physical landscapes shape the human psyche.” ~ Bob Fisher, Travelosophy.com, Canada

“The thrill of victory, the agony of de feet! …Wilson is superb at minute description of the topography as well as the chance encounters with other voyagers and the townsfolk along the way…The book is sprinkled with humor, and with some cartoons to make the journey special. Hikers and non-hikers will enjoy this travelogue of conquering the mountains and valleys of mittel Europa.” ~ Barbara Hudgins, author, Crafting the Travel Guidebook

“Fascinating and harrowing tale… A MUST READ for hikers, travelers, outdoors people and adventurers.” ~ Bonnie Neely, RealTravelAdventures.com


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“Through their gripping 4 month long journey not only do we discover idyllic, yet vanishing Alpine villages and people who have made the mountains their home for generations, but we are inspired and encouraged to summit our own personal Alps.” ~ Simone diSanti, ARoadReTraveled.com, Italia

"Their spirit of teamwork, love of nature and people, and great courage facing and overcoming many difficult unknowns along the Alpine trails makes this Brandon’s very best book and adventure to date.”  
~ Linda D. Delgado, Author and Publisher

"Over the Top & Back Again is an exciting read, sure to please and inspire readers to their own mountaineering adventure." ~ Midwest Book Review, Travel Shelf


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"Apart from Wilson’s often humorous accounts, I enjoyed the photos (in particular Mirror Lake above Lac Ste-Anne in France) and the quote below from the last stages of the red route to Monaco, when the couple had left Sospel and caught sight of a village-dog." ~ Erica Johansson, TravelBlissful.com

'The pure joy reflected in his eyes reminded me why I take to the trail. It’s the fresh air, the heart pounding, air-gasping pace; it’s the lure about something new around each bend and the freedom to explore. It’s the sweat and strain to accomplish something measurable each day. It’s the memorable views from a mountaintop. It’s reducing life to its primal essentials and finding satisfaction in the smallest things: a hot shower, a warm meal, a soft pillow, or word of encouragement. It’s the new people you meet everyday and experiences shared. It’s the personal peace you find when you reconnect with nature and the Universe.'


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“Many dream. Some try. Brandon and Cheryl do. Well told.” ~ Marcus Wilder, author of the Naive and Abroad travel series

“Another unique adventure for the world nomad or armchair traveler alike to read and enjoy without getting your feet wet and cold. Part travelogue, part travel guide and all humor and adventure.”
~ Tammy Wetzel, Yileen Press



Interesting in seeing larger photos? Check out this Via Alpina cover story by Brandon Wilson in TravelWorld International, magazine for the North America Travel Journalist Association.


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©photos by Brandon Wilson, all rights reserved. Actual book photos are in black and white. Not all these photos appear in book.