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

Robin Allen

This book was kinda boring and whiny for a couple of rich dudes on bikes with a film crew following them around.


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.


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 is a true story about two fairly well known people taking a trip across a vast distance. The A-List actor and a well-to-do buddy (d-list actor?) have a dream and try to put it into action. Some of their challenges are ones that most people would not have - e.g. having a director who does not want you riding a motorcycle to practice for the trip in case you injure yourself before your movie is complete. Some of the other challenges they thought were unique to their "star power" were likely challenges that anyone travelling the road less travelled would have: i.e people coming out to stare, insisting on some celebration or having a political leader want to meet you. I have travelled some and am not famous for anything and I have had these experiences.There is lots of whining and the book is not particularly well written. Having said that, these guys are not famous (or almost famous) for their writing skills. Also, they have obviously not had to endure manhy hardships throughout their lives but I wish the editor had reeled them in a bit.One of the areas that I thought was really lacking in their writing was their insistance that the adventure really moved them, that they felt connected to teh places that they had visited and that it changed their lives. Unfortunately, they could not demonstrate this and had to rely on telling us that. I actually believe them but wish I could have read the book and felt it with them.Not the worst book out there and if you are a motorcycle kind of person you will get a lot more out of the many pages devoted to their research and decision making (and errors)that went into motorcycle choice.

Goldie Katsu

This is the book that goes with the TV Series. In it Charley and Ewan share their thoughts of the trip, starting from their first love of motorcycles, meeting, the idea, planning and the trip itself. It is enjoyable seeing the challenges and beauty of the trip through their eyes, plus the inner landscape of their thoughts and reactions to the experience.

Wendy Blansett

Great book. This book is not necessarily all about the bikes and blokes that ride them, but it is more about the places, the people, and the moments. Ewan and Charlie travel through some of the most remote and poorest regions of the world, but wherever they go, the people are gracious and kind, offering what little they have, including food, liquor, and shelter.Ewan rarely plays his "Obi-Wan" card - only when it's a must. For most of the journey people have no idea who he is. He is just a guy riding through occasionally in need of help and often needing a place to stay and a meal. As the guys travel through Kazakhstan, Serbia, Russia, and Mongolia, they realize it's not about getting from one point to the next, but about all those moments in between.Really well written in alternating voices of Ewan and Charlie. Just a great book!

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

Liza H

I loved the 10-episode show that aired chronicling the adventure of Ewan MacGregor and his friend Charlie Boorman as they took a pair of BMW motorbikes around the world, from London to New York. I'd hoped that by reading the book written by them, there might be a little bit more insight on their thoughts and feelings during the trip, and I wasn't disappointed. Neither man is exactly a great storyteller, but it was a lot like reading someone's blogged thoughts about being away from friends and family for that extended amount of time, and it was great to get a little insight on how a famous man like MacGregor might deal with finally being in a place where no one recognized him, nor cared that he was a great big star. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this book as much as I did if I hadn't already seen the TV shows, however. I think this was a good supplement to the show, but you really learned and saw more of their adventure in the video than you do in the book.


Wow... I went into this book with very little expectations, firstly I know nothing about bikes, and secondly I thought that it may be some kind of shameless promotion on behalf of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman but I was incredibly wrong.I was amazed at the journey these men took, and especially amazed at the vast amount of emotion that they both experienced and described throughout the journey and especially at their homecoming. This is a book for any travel lover, for those who wish to experience a world outside of their own, I was moved by the journey of these men and the relationships that developed while on it, I have a new found respect for Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman and applaud them for accomplishing something so amazing.


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...


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.


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.


I couldn't find Ted Simon's Jupiter's Travels at my local Barnes & Noble, but found this book instead. I'd seen the Long Way Round TV series on DVD and thought I'd like more about Ewan McGRegor's and Charley Boorman's bike trip around the world than they cound present on their film.At first, I wasn't disappointed. They start with great backstory about how they each got into motorcycles in the first place, and how they'd become friends and conceived and arranged this whole thing. I also like the back-and-forth "Ewan:... Charley:..." running commentary format. They hand-off the narrative and carry the story of their travels rather well.Where I think the book falls short is in that it follows the film too closely. I'd have preferred to have been rewarded with bits and pieces that weren't included on the TV program, which is of course extremely edited because they had to condense 180 days of travel into 6 or 9 (I can't remember exactly how long it is) hour-long episodes. For example, their 2-week trek across North America (From Alaska to New York) is just 1 episode. In the book, it is likewise covered over the course of very few pages.Overall, I think it was worth reading. It has temporarily satiated my wanderlust and piqued my interest in world cultures, as well as introduced me to a few global issues.

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!


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.

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