Twenty-Nine Lives

One Man’s Twenty-Eight Brushes With Death

An eBook by Tony Mayo; BSc, MA, MFA

Twenty-Nine Lives is a personal account of twenty-eight occasions during my life where I faced death. Each chapter chronicles a series of events in which I encountered near death situations, or was involved in events that could have easily led to my demise. After surviving each of those twenty-eight incidents, I felt as if I had been given another chance to live. Therefore, I have concluded that I must now be in my twenty-ninth life!

From my earliest years, I have led an adventurous life! Since 1972, many of my exciting experiences have occurred during various risky travels into some of the most remote parts of ninety-one countries around the world. Throughout those travels, while studying numerous endangered human cultures, I carefully collected thousands of historically important artifacts. At the same time I painstakingly documented priceless information through slides, photographs, notes, diagrams, tape recordings and videos.

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Twenty-Nine Lives is available worldwide and can be downloaded to your computer, smart phone, android, tablet or eReader. Purchased from iTunes, my book can be viewed on an iPhone, iPod, iPad, iMac, MacPro, MacMini and through iCloud.

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Looking down the barrel of a Russian made AKM assault rifle, I contemplated how I might escape. I watched my two Afghan captors carefully. Both were heavily armed, each cradling a rifle. A revolver and large knife hung at their sides and each had an ammunition belt slung over one shoulder. Both men bore heavy battle scars on their hands, arms and faces and one wore a patch over his right eye. They had forced me up a ladder and onto the top of an old, rickety and rusted out bus that was violently rocking back and forth, mercilessly tossing me to and fro as we bounced down a remote mountain road deep in Afghanistan’s notorious Khyber Pass. To avoid being pitched off the roof and into the deep canyon along the edge of the narrow dirt road, I clutched desperately onto the low, loose fitting railing fastened around the outside edge of the rooftop. This was not my first close call with death, and at the time I certainly hoped it would not be my last…


“‘Twenty-Nine Lives’ is an exceptionally marvelous masterpiece written by the indomitable spirit of an author: Tony Mayo, who is so much more than an adventurer in his amazing way of depicting life’s vitality through his words. This book is a blissful reminder of the exhilaration of being alive! When I began to read it a few months ago, I simply failed to stop reading. Then I went on re reading…Those Twenty-Nine chapters not only took me to the beautiful Minnesota and sunny Florida back in the 60s, but also to the unforeseeable ICU where I found how soulfully a brave-heart could beat in hope. Expeditions, here, very realistically allowed me to shiver with the coldness of Arctic Canada which, later, was heated up by the unbelievable description of the hand grenade explosion so close to Tony in the holy city of Bethlehem. From the abandoned Bedouin village to the twenty spectacular dives in the red sea, from the Khyber Pass to the Afghan Gunpoint- my awestruck mind ventured everything as though I was there. The Himalayas, the Amazon, the Grand Canyon, the Cordillera Blanca nothing escaped Tony’s memorable footsteps! His love for nature, animals and hiking, his great affinity for cars made this non-fiction extra special to me. And I really needed to drink a glass of water in one gulp, when he chewed the grisly, deadly octopus tentacle, sitting at a table full of fifty Korean food dishes as his adventure continued in ‘The 29th Life’. I highly recommend everyone to read this excellent book which has successfully taught me that life becomes more meaningful, if fatal mortality can be challenged by courage and enthusiasm. Tony Mayo is the man who traveled around the world with the sun. My heartfelt thanks to him for providing us the sunlight through this brilliant work!” – Munia Khan, internationally known Author and Poet, Pakistan, Ms. Khan is published in eighteen languages 


“This true-life account of one man’s wild side kept me flipping the (digital) pages until I found out what crazy thing he did next! I was pinned until I was finished. It begins with humorous reckless accounts of carelessness and adrenaline rushes of a small boy, and continues into numerous tragic, appalling and horrific accounts of evading death. It is blatantly obvious that his life on earth is not over, and surely, he will be living well into his hundreds! I would recommend this to anyone who needs to escape the world for a few hours and forget their own problems…it could always be worse!” – Misty Bids, Abstract Artist, British Columbia


“What a Wonderful book! The detailed descriptions of Tony’s adventures and near-death misses make a compelling read. His sense of adventure, unending optimism, and determination to survive make him an unforgettable character in his own real-life saga. The fact that he survived so many harrowing experiences is truly amazing! Once I started to read his story, I could not stop until I had read it all. He left me wanting more, and I suspect (and hope) that he will be sharing more of his incredible stories in the future.” – Karen Stenback, Author. University Professor


“This is the fascinating and captivating biographical tale of the miracle of the human will and spirit to survive against all odds. Tony Mayo is a consummate raconteur and adventurer the likes of Patrick Leigh Fermor. I particularly enjoyed my second reading of Twenty-Nine Lives as I discovered subtle nuances that I had missed the first time.” – Michael Ullock, Owner, Battery Canada


 “I know a lot of adventurers but none who have had remotely so many close calls. Tony Mayo has more lives than a herd of cats.” – Jason Schoonover, author of Adventurous Dreams, Adventurous Lives and The Explorers Club’s Stefansson Medalist


“Tony Mayo’s written words paint wonderful visual settings in which the reader can easily observe and imagine the author’s diverse and often extremely adventurous experiences unfolding in each chapter. I read a chapter a day along with my morning coffee. I will miss that little ritual, along the places and situations his stories transported me to.” – Gallen Benson, World-renowned Art Jeweller and Designer


“Captivating and well written. Tony’s love for exploration and adventure shines through. It is inspiring that one man’s quest to embrace life to its fullest cannot be thwarted by so many close calls and face to face encounters with Death.”


“Tony Mayo is an adventure seeker who is so skillful at describing his experiences that one can visualize, taste, and feel it all. He gets your heart thumping.” – Linda Passon-McNally, Art Photographer, Minnesota


“Like Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air) Mayo patiently lets his stories unfold at their own pace, offering snippets of culture, geography and history as the tension builds. Yet the short very readable chapters, each a vignette of another close call, make for fast reading. Having said that, you will want to slow down and savour all that each tale has to offer.” – Seymour Clearly


“The theme of Mr. Mayo’s book is highly unique and that’s what attracted me to buy it, besides the equally unusual cover, not typical either. I love adventure books, both fiction and non-fiction, and this reads like real live adventure because it is. He’s a good writer, and puts the reader “right there.” He’s lived (and I presume still lives?) a heck of an interesting life (he should work for National Geographic! There’s lots of meat and potatoes like that). I was far from being disappointed. Darned interesting book. Much recommended if you like real adventure and anthropology.” – Skyjumper, Explorer and Author of many books


“This book is a great read! From the very beginning the author invites you into his dynamic experiences interwoven amongst highly interesting settings. A nicely paced work that I would recommend to anyone.” – Amanda Pryzner


“At the end of the book, one is left with two primary emotions: 1. One can only be grateful, on Mr. Mayo’ behalf, that he still is alive; and 2. that oneself has been spared some of his horrors.” – Eigil, School District Psychologist, Canada


“…this book does an excellent job of informing the reader about the diverse settings in the book. This is combined with a subtle sense of humour, and a wonderful relish of unthinkable gory horrors.”