Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World

ISBN: 0743499344
ISBN 13: 9780743499347
By: Ewan McGregor Charley Boorman

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About this book

It started as a daydream. Poring over a map of the world at home one quiet Saturday afternoon, Ewan McGregor -- acclaimed actor and self-confessed bike nut -- noticed that it was possible to ride all the way round the world, with just one short hop across the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska. It was a revelation he couldn't get out of his head. So he picked up the phone and called his fellow actor-slash-biker friend Charley Boorman and told him it was time to hit the road.... Long Way Round Beginning in London, Ewan and Charley chased their shadows through Europe, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russia; across the Pacific to Alaska; then down through Canada all the way to New York. Long Way Round is the result of their four-month, 20,000-mile joyride. Featuring original diary entries, travel maps, mileage charts, and dozens of photographs, this is a freewheeling, fully charged, and uproariously entertaining book about two world-famous individuals who chose the road not taken...and made the journey worthwhile.

Reader's Thoughts


This was a fun read; although, every time I put it down I wanted to go out and ride my motorcycle. The stories of travelling through Europe and Asia were very compelling. It's amazing how much that they had to rely on the kindness of strangers over the course of their trip. Even with the months of preparation and all of the support they had, they still wouldn't have been able to complete the journey with out a lot of luck.While I'm sympathetic to the hardships of the road and the journey, there seemed to be quite a bit of belly aching by all of the parties involved and that turned me off a little bit.Aside from Mr. McGregor being hit by a car in Canada, the North American leg of the journey was kind of disappointing (from a story telling perspective that is).I've been watching the television series too, but always managed to stay a couple of chapters ahead so as not to have the show spoil anything in the book for me. The book did not capture the Unicef visits nearly as well as the television show. I don't know if that is because I needed to visually see the children's hardships or if it just didn't come across as strong in the book.I'll be embarking on Long Way Down next.

Steve Bolen

I picked up this book because I enjoy reading about things I will probably never be able to do in my lifetime. Plus it seemed like a great adventure. I started out not liking the book much because I didn't like the way it jumped from Ewan to Charlie in the narration. I thought it was distracting to the story. But as I read further along it became less and less of an irritation. The premise of the book is an around the world trip on BMW bikes. I thought that sounded cool. And difficult. I'm not saying there was not hardship on their trip because there was. BUT they were followed by a full support crew and international group of "fixers". There was a very telling picture in the book of Ewan sleeping while his fixers worked on getting him across a border. And there were fits of over emotional whininess. But hell these guys are actors after all. If you like adventure stories this is not a bad one. If would are looking for the meaning of life keep looking.


Whoo! A travel book that I actually finished! I am so proud of myself. I hate myself for liking (and then consequently bagging on) chicklit lately. But Long Way Round was quite an easy read if only because it was written by Ewan McGregor and his friend, a fellow actor whom I had never heard of called Charley Boorman. This was about their motorcycle trip from London to NYC (via Asia).The book was okay. The downside was all the talk about their motorcycles, which I didn't care about at all and a couple of anecdotes about people recognizing Ewan in the most random places in the world. You ain't that big a movie star, boy! But I guess everyone knows Star Wars. Otherwise, it was an entertaining read as most books my celebs are. They are entertainers for a reason. And also, I liked that Ewan and Charley didn't get a long a lot of the time. Way different then the usual get stuck in the worst situations, but we are best friends till the end! Them fighting a lot made it way more real.I am a glazer when it comes to reading sometimes and this book, if you glazed over a page, you may have missed a whole story, so that aspect kept me awake. I didn't want to miss anything because the stories that were noted where very well written. They were mainly about the people and situations they came across in the wilds of Asia, re: things you would never even think of, like not having a paved road. Crazy.Grade: solid C


Long Way Round starts off detailing some of both Ewan and Charlies past experiences and bikes they've ridden, as someone who doesn't have a huge interest in motorcycles this was a pretty slow start to the book. However once they leave the UK and really start their trip things get much more interesting and exciting, it's quite an incredible journey that i can imagine was exhausting yet very rewarding. As someone who travels a fair bit, and even though just ripping through countries in a matter of weeks isn't really my style, there's alot to appreciate in this. Both Ewan and Charley can get a little tiring at times with their bickering between eachother, but i think it's understandable given the stresses of the trip and being together all the time. I particularily enjoyed their mongolian and russian leg of the trip, all in all a good adventure story about two guys riding their bikes across the world.


Ewan and Charley are good friends and fun-loving lads. They managed to execute a dream that many have on dull office days, namely to get away for weeks, get on a motorbike and let the hair blow in the wind. Motoring around the world eastwards from London, through Siberia and North America sounds romantic and adventurous indeed, but can turn out to be challenging for idealists. In fact you realize how luxuriously lazy your life is, when you decide to give it up and fight the elements and the tarnac lacking roads of Siberia. As a bonus, you might get to be life-long enemies with your best friend. But of course, you asked for it.First of all, I hate motorbikes. If their is something that drives me mad is the loud roar of an engine and I can’t imagine anything more disturbing in nature than this devilish machine. Secondly, I haven’t seen the TV series that documents the trip, however I read the travelogue and am sure that the series must be better. Little is written about the places our heros press through; the focus is more on the adventure, the personal experiences and the spirit of independent travel. Part of the attraction naturally is Ewan McGregor, who is a likeable chap and an undeniable celebrity. In this unique case therefore, I suggest that pictures speak better than words.Oh, yes and they are setting off again in 2007. This time to Africa. Watch these spaces (and their website) …http://mukikamu.wordpress.com/2007/02...

Rob & Liz

It was a slow read but quite interesting. Main observations was to see how people across the world in some of the worst areas of poverty and hardship offer help and friendhsip.The dedication of their friends and support group to enable them to take this ride.They wanted to prove a point, have an adventure and established deep friendship.The irony of the female border guard in the USA going ballistic because they had stopped for a moment compared to the border guards in Russia who went thru paperwork but did not go ballistic as they waited, was quite amusing to me.Perhaps you have to love bikes to fully understand the challenge they endured while I looked at the human touch and people beyond the support crew who made the unscripted problems vaporize.Rob


A fascinating tale of two men and their impossible dream made possible. Ewan McGregor, the actor, dreams of riding his bike around the world. He convinces his friend Charley to go from London to NY, the ‘long way around’. This book recounts their 18,000+ mile journey. Different cultures they encountered (some not so far from their own country). Strange (and sometimes scary) friendships they created. A connection with nature. A more simple life. The support and dedication of their friends and family. And so much more. They filmed their trip for a mini-series, which I haven’t seen. Yet. Definitely a great read! You don’t have to know about bikes (or even be interested in bikes), nor do you have to have seen the mini-series, or any of Ewan and/or Charley’s movies. I enjoyed it very much.


My love of Long Way Round is purely emotional. We are not talking about great literature here, nor should anyone expect it. After all, the book isn't written. It is spoken. But that adds to the charm.As these two spoiled boys travel around the world from London to New York, cutting through places like Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia, it is the chattiness and comradeship of such close friends living a "Boys' Own" adventure that sucks us in. Whether they are shitting their pants when a Russian miner comes down the stairs with an AK-47 on his hip or they are overwhelmed with emotion when they spend time with Mongolian kids in the sewers of Ulan Bataar, whether they are arguing over the killing of a Grizzly Bear along the Road of Bones or they are worrying for Ewan's life after a car crash near Calgary, they are really just two real blokes enjoying a lark.But they do it all with humility, which suppressed my usual annoyance at rich folk whining about supposed adversity while doing something the rest of us never will. Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman actually seemed to get the immensity of what they were doing (and how insanely lucky they were to be doing it), and even though they complained about the rough roads and the cold and the wet and the adversity, they really learned some important lessons during their trip -- particularly when it came to the importance of their families.As for me, well, I was surprised to discover that I was inspired by Ewan and Charlie to make a journey of my own. It hasn't happened yet, but it will. But I think I'll be taking my son.This book may not be for you, but it was definitely for me.

Artūras Orševskis

Pradėjau skaityti lietuvišką knygos vertimą "Ilgas kelias aplink", knygą pabaigiau originalo kalba.Vis užkliūdavo prastas Aistės Kvedaraitės-Nichols vertimas. Vienas iš pavyzdžių: "- Ž̌inai, kokia buvo paskutinė̇ mintis, š̌ovusi tam š̌uniui į galvą̨? - pa­klausė̇ Charlis, iš juoko vos pajė̇gdamas suregzti ž̌odž̌ius. - Jo už̌pakalis."Knygoje nerasite daugiau nei video laidų reportažuose apie minėtą kelionę. Daskaičiau tik dėl to, kad beskaitant vis aplankydavo malonūs prisiminimai iš mano kelionės su draugais dvejomis beviltiškai senomis mašinomis iš Vilniaus iki Tbilisio.


Full disclosure:1. I love Ewan McGregor and would enjoy doing naughty things to him. Preferably while he talked in his Scottish accent.2. I watched this TV series.3. I am reading this book not because of #1 and 2 so much as the fact that someone said that she'd read in this book (or sadly the subsequent one) that he and his wife had an open marriage and I became determined to get to the bottom of this. Which I suppose does relate to #1 if not exactly #2. This is not embarrassing to admit at all. Really.Anyhow, long story short, if you've watched the series you don't exactly need to read this book, and were it not for #3 I probably would not have. The series, BTW, was great. The book doesn't exactly tread a lot of new ground if you've watched the series, although that said I actually quite liked it. Not at first - at first I was like, PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU LOVE MOTORCYCLES, I JUST WOULD LIKE TO SKIM YOU AND READ ABOUT OPEN MARRIAGES. But then I gave into it and just read it and quickly it was good and interesting.Okay, I suppose as I come to think of it I might be wrong a little bit - maybe I did learn a little behind the scenes good stuff from the book, what with books tending to be more introspective and all that. I mean, I learned that there was a struggle between Ewan & Charley and the support crew. And that Ewan loves camping (and motorcycles), although otherwise doesn't really consider himself much of a man's man. Charley also loves motorcycles, but decidedly does NOT love camping. He has also got a bit of the Irish temper and likes to yell at people a bit, whereas Ewan is more of a pouter. Although Ewan once he's over it is 100% over it, which is suppose is nice.Isn't this exciting? I thought so. Okay, I also got some insight into their time in the Ukraine and why they were so scared at that Ukranian dude's house, which I remember maybe most of all from the series (imprinted in my brain due to Ewan's playing the guitar and singing Running to Stand Still in a display of inhuman hotness). Which is mostly that the Ukranian dude and all his compatriots were enormously gun-happy mobsters that they basically didn't feel they could say no to, and somehow that didn't come through as clearly on screen as it did in here, which was cool. And I learned why they loved Mongolia so much, which in the series somehow also didn't come across to me as well. Because to me Mongolia seemed a little god-forsaken, but to them first of all A. it was more than anywhere else devoid of the trappings of fame bullshit, so they could really disappear and just be normal people (albeit normal westerners on huge motorcycles, which is fairly insane for there, but still) and more importantly B. because Mongolians really seem to have a spirit of warm niceness and helpfulness. I guess it's mostly a nomadic culture, and it seems that as a result there is just very much a culture of helping out people who are in need if possible. Basically what I am saying is that their bikes would break down or something all the time, and honestly whenever it happened a random batch of Mongolians would be passing by and they would just stop, stop what they were doing/where they were going, and get about the business of helping them. Just like random batch of Mongolian dudes see two white dudes with huge motorcycles and they would just stop everything, come over, be like, here, want to pet my horse?, and then sit down and fix the motorcycle for them. This happened so often in Mongolia it seems that Ewan and Charley really got to the point of believing, you know what, we'll get there, things will be okay, if something goes wrong, someone will come along and help. Some of this is explicit in their story, and some of it I'm deducing (they said that this happened, but I'm connecting point A and B in deciding this is one reason why Ewan in particular loved Mongolia). But the bottom line is it seems like being there in a way really made them come to believe in and trust in the goodness of people and that you aren't alone in the world and things will work out. At least sometimes (we all know not everyone is good). Or at least if you're in Mongolia. Which, either way, is a really powerful and awesome lesson to learn - that fundamentally, no matter if you are in the middle of effing nowhere, you aren't alone and someone will likely come by to help and things will be okay.Also things I learned: Ewan and Charley both missed their families a lot and basically moaned about it to each other/in their heads the whole time. Which is actually fairly sweet, although not amazing reading. And that as I suspected there is no mention of Ewan having an open marriage, although there is still the second book to confirm that. There are rumors of that about/on the internet, but not in this book and as he seems quite private about his private life (as he has every right to be), I doubt strongly there will be a "Oh Eve and I like to have it off with the odd other person every now and again" in the second book. In short, it was actually a more interesting read than I'd originally bargained for. And I now have this little bit of amusement in my brain that while it probably was in the series, was overshadowed by my all-encompassing memory of the U2 singing:As he and Charley and Claudio stop for an impromptu skinny dip in a snow-melt-fed Kazakh river:Ewan: "Aaagh! Where has my penis gone?"and laterEwan: "My feet are so cold! Complete penis disappearance!"


I think I expected too much from this book. I was hoping for a fantastic journey of two motorcycles through hell and back, and what it took to fix them and stories of the people involved. And it was some of that. My problems were that Ewan and Charley are about the worst people that could have undertaken this journey. They don't know how to fix motorcycles and always had to have the locals fix them. They hate camping. They're as emotional as a 13 year old girl. Seriously, every other page someone was in a 'mood' or was crying or pining for home. I know the journey is hard, but man up and live with it! Or at least don't fill 50% of your book with your emotional difficulties. Ultimately it came off like two rich white actors with the money to ride motorcycles around the world, though not the balls. Parts were good, but a lot of parts really got on my nerves.


This was technically one of my husband's books but I thought it might be interesting because it seemed like a travel book with a difference. My husband did 'warn' me that there was a lot of motorbike info in the book but ironically it wasn't this that bothered me. The motorbike stuff was actually a little bit interesting! I found the two authors to be a bit whingey at times - sure I can understand that they missed their families during their trip BUT they did choose to do the trip and indulge their motorbike based dreams. I accept that they did do some charity work on their way round so good on them for that but I don't think they did enough to justify the parts of the book that annoyed me. Also I could have done without some of the unusual food descriptions esp the part about the testicles! That conjured up a rather too vivid mental image for me!

Glyn Longden

Rating: 6.5/10 Two actors bike around the world from west to east. I'm a bit of a sucker for this type of travelogue; it helps cover my guilt from never having gone anywhere. Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, all get covered with the relish of men on a mission. Are we not men? (We are DEVO) I've always wondered why in books like this the last third of the trip is covered in the last chapter of the book. In this case Alaska to London must have been boring....but any more boring than London to Kiev which gets a number of chapters. Memo to authors: we know you miss you're families and you're lonely and stuff but we (meaning ME) don't care. Tell us about what you see and the problems you're having. My son has lent me the video and I'm sure it will be better than the book. Also a little note to Charley Boorman: Your complaints sure sound like whining to me. Perhaps you should write a book on the horrors of travelling from Toronto to Montreal.


I don't usually take the time to review books here, but this book was so poorly written and annoying to read that on several occasions i wanted to throw it out of a window. The amount of crying and whining that these two grown men did through out their trip, and the amount of pages taken up talking about how much they miss their wives...well...it really loses the essence of what a trip like that is all about. I can see that they attempted to convey some of the emotional trials and tribulation that they went through, but the writing was so poor that they certainly failed at connecting with the reader. Not till the very last pages was it mentioned that Mongolia had been the highlight of their trip but it was certainly lost on me, since the entire chapter on Mongolia was filled with whining how they had to camp outside, how they wished for a hotel, and how they wanted to be "anywhere but there". With almost unlimited resources and money at hand, with all of their fancy gear, well it was exasperating at best to get through. I heard the documentary was better, so perhaps thats a better bet for people.


Long Way Round is a fairly well-known TV series documenting the journey undertaken by actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in 2004, riding motorcycles all the way around the world from London to New York, across very remote and wild terrain in Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Siberia. McGregor was already quite a famous actor, appearing in Star Wars, Trainspotting and Big Fish; Boorman was considerably less well-known, in the shadow of both Ewan and his more famous father John Boorman (the director of Deliverance). Long Way Round turned out to be the largest success story of both their careers.I'd already greatly enjoyed the TV series, and since I have motorbikes on the brain at the moment, I recently rewatched it and then picked up the book, which is ostensibly written by both of them but is actually obviously ghostwritten. The style is a bit strange, actually - it regularly cuts between Charley and Ewan, prefacing their segments with their names, but there is no difference whatsoever in their writing style (because, of course, they didn't really write it) and the only way I could ever remember who was talking was to see whether it was "Charley and I" or "Ewan and I" doing something. I'm really not sure why they chose that style.The book is related in a fairly conversational tone, as though the two adventurers are telling you stories at the pub, and the chronology jumps around quite a bit in the early stages, with flashbacks to the planning sections while they're already riding through Europe. It's a very easy and quick read, and one which I found very enjoyable, but I wouldn't recommend it to somebody who hadn't already watched the TV series.For somebody who has watched the TV series, however, it's a fascinating in-depth look at the journey. There were a lot of things which happened to them that weren't featured in the series simply because they didn't catch them on film and therefore couldn't work them into the narrative; my favourite would have to be Charley pulling two people out of a car crash on the Road of Bones. There's a deeper insight into their relationship with their two producers, Russ and David, including a crucial confrontation in Prague; there's also a deeper insight into the two men themselves. Both Ewan and Charley are extremely honest about what they think about themselves and each other: their flaws, their strengths, the things they do that really piss each other off... and the fact that, at the end of the day, their positives outweigh their negatives and they're still best friends. There's also appendices detailing the exact mileage and destinations they covered on every day off the trip, and a full inventory of all the equipment they carried on the bikes and in the support vehicles.Overall, Long Way Round is an excellent supplement to its televised brother, but probably wouldn't work as a stand-alone book.

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