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


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.


Not sure what happened to my original review... but here goes again.The two characters [McGregor and Boorman] have made this whole journey saga into so much more than it would've been had they done it individually. as apair they have played off each other and have allowed each other to portray differing moods and emotions without suffering the strains and stress that might've been suffered by solo travellers.the narrative of the two is subtley different and you soon become comfortable with both. If you saw the series before you read the book [as I did] you are somewhat aware of what is coming... but you are not aware of it all as the book contains far more personal thought than could ever be included in a tv show.


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.


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.


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!

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.


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.


Long Way Round is a mentally and physically exhausting journey made by two friends who wanted a break. The book is comprised of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s daily diary entries that were written during the entire trip. By sharing both of their personal diaries you are able to get two very different perspectives of their overwhelming trip around the world.In the beginning, I was a little irritated, especially with Ewan. He liked to name-drop quite a bit and, also, liked to mention which movies he was filming at the time. However, as I kept reading, I realized that Ewan’s journey was about leaving the film industry behind and discover new things about himself. I thought it was amazing how he and Charley were able to get on a pair of huge BMW bikes without an entourage and travel across some of the most difficult and dangerous roads in the world. They would stay with complete strangers and found out the true meaning of hospitality. For Ewan and Charley, Mongolia was the highlight of their journey. They were able to, finally, leave behind their insecurities and obsessions of keeping their riding schedules. They started to absorb and enjoy the ride. At one part, they decided to take a quick dip in a nearby river.Ewan: “This is so liberating!” I screamed, running naked along the riverbank back to my bike. “Three nude men in the countryside. We should have some drums and bows and arrows.” The best part of the impromptu skinny-dip was that we had shaken off our obsession with keeping to the schedule…But we’d come to realize that keeping to planned mileage was pointless if we didn’t experience anything along the way.”It was moments like that that made the book so entertainment; watching grown men run around like little boys enjoying their adventure.However, there were times where the extreme demand on their minds and bodies was just too much. Charley wrote that “It was just so hard. More than once I thought: what the f—k am I doing here? Why am I doing this? Who thought this was a good idea? I just wanted to go home. For the first time, I really hit a low, my mood all the worse for not having eaten since breakfast.” When Charley would really let himself experience the land, he would lift himself out of his dark mood and journey on. Their extreme mood swings was prevalent throughout their journey. They had highs and lows. It really is amazing how they were able to fight through their emotions to meet their goal. I really enjoyed this book. I experienced all the highs and lows with Ewan and Charley. You are left with such a respect for what these two accomplished. They left behind the comfort of their families and their privileged lifestyle to experience extreme off rode biking and other cultures. They came back changed men.


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.


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.

Luke Ballenger

Target Audience: Travel enthusiasts/adventure seekers, and motorcycle enthusiasts.I'm about half way into the book. By in large, thus far, I find it to be entertaining and different than what I originally imagined it to be. The first quarter of the book is devoted entirely to building up the relationships between Ewan and Charley, and the origination of the journey. I preemptively thought that the book would gloss the relationships between the men and commence outright for the adventure within the first chapter. That being said, developing the characters in the beginning made the journeys more enjoyable to read. While the narrative was easy to read through and was well written,the vignettes yielded a diced or cut up storyline. It flowed horribly. Sometimes you'd have Charley reiterating the same story as Ewan but with a slightly different view. I could tell that both men wrote a traveling journal of their experiences, and then just threw them on paper, each telling its own side. The plus side of this is that the reader receives a thorough picture of the actions that are going on, however, in several cases it quickly turns into redundancy.I purchased the book largely because I fantasize about traveling and enjoy Ewan's work as an actor. I found it odd to see that the two travelers hired on a crew to subsidize their adventure. After being involved with three blockbuster movie hits, I thought that Ewan could front the adventure. Ewan does explain in detail why he and Charley sought financial assistance and the repercussions of it.I did read several reviews on this book. One of the major themes from complaints was that the two men were classified as egocentric and were aimlessly traveling the world, largely for superficial entertainment. I'd like to think this is not the case. The main goal for me to travel besides visiting family and friends is to experience new cultures, which gives me a different view on life and shape my existence. I believe in full, that this paralleled their idea, to explore new cultures. Ewan even states to the Eastern European Mafia that he and Charley find meeting new people randomly exciting. More importantly, it was also stated in the book that they had grown from their travels, especially after experiencing danger with the "mafia" in Eastern Europe and severe weather conditions. I give both men high respect for being tenacious with the plan - there were several instances when they were walking a fine line between going forward versus failing with their adventure.Even though I have not completed the book yet, I'm throwing on a 3.5 star. This is a great adventure book and I'm glad I purchased it!


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.


All right, this has been sitting on my shelf for several years and I really have been meaning to read it. I'm actually not a huge fan of travel genre because the writers often sound so bloody pretentious when they describe the country side that they view from the spit shined windows of their over priced hotel. This book starts off as a couple of mates act on a dream they've each toyed with since childhood, to ride a motobike around the world.After months of planning, they start off from London and make their way east to New York City, a trip that will take them four months and 18,887 miles. I laughed with them as they encountered one strange adventure after another. I worried when the rivers they crossed were higher then the engines. With every border crossing, I hoped they would get through it safely and with little hassle. Every day seemed to bring something new to the boys, and therefore to me. By reading the journey they took around the world, I learned that there are still people out there who will stop for a total stranger to help him repair his bike, that will take him into their home, feed him, and offer him a warm bed. The world is full of people who are willing offer a hand in exchange for a smile. I also learned, along with McGregor and Boorman, that not everything is as it seems and every person deserves the benefit of the doubt. Most of all, I learned that life isn't about the destination, its all about the journey. Lovingly and honestly written, Long Way Round shows everyone that takes the time to read it that sometimes all you need is a little adventure and fresh air to find what you were looking for, which is often not too far from where you started in the first place.


I'm not even going to blame the fact that I interrupted reading this with a few much better books & coming back to it was torturous. Too much man whining, too much man bickering, too much "Oh but we miss our families so much!!" No one forced you to leave them & take this trip, did they?


I enjoy adventure/survival books, so this was suggested for me by a motorcycle enthusiast friend. I also read a lot of Stalin's Russia material which is another reason for my reading this book. It was so depressing to read how the Ukraine and Mongolia still struggle, and have the street children problem. It was heart rendering, but at the same time the problem was exposed and Ewan encouraged the reader to get involved with UNICEF or other organizations to help improve the lives of Mongolian families before the tragedy of having the children leave home and live underground.The Road of Bones was also a reminder of the evils of communism.All the border checkpoint problems made me appreciate our freedoms we take for granted.Ewan and Charley did a fine job of expressing the difficulties of such a trip in foreign lands with poor road conditions, poverty, lack of sleeping accomodations, and most of all how much they missed their families.

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