Sunday, July 10, 2005

Review: "Long Way Round"

Just finished reading this book by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. Now this is not the sort of book that I'd normally pick up. It's a travel book for one, and I have never read a travel book before. However, inspired by seeing the two guys in a tv interview about their journey some time ago, I had made a mental note to read more about their adventure. Whilst there is a fair bit of motorbike stuff in the book, and not being one for motorbikes particularly, I didn't find that it was too much or that it detracted from the story of their journey. In fact, the tales of their problems and fears about the bikes just added to the drama.

The best bit of the book for me was their tales of the people they met along the way, as they travelled almost in a straight line east of London, through Europe, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia and Siberia, and then caught the plane across the sea to Alaska and continued to New York. Some of the situations they found themselves in (lots of men with guns!) were fascinating and I genuinely felt for them. The book is written with a great deal of insight into their journey, and also a great deal of empathy and respect for the lives of the people they met around the world (particularly in Mongolia). It was nice to see that Ewan McGregor especially was concerned that their trip be as anonymous as possible, and refreshing to see that he genuinely didn't want people to treat him like the big Hollywood star.

I think that the guys were perhaps a little crazy to even consider doing something like this, but admire them for doing so. I really enjoyed this book, it was well written, and easy to read. The switching between Charley's and Ewan's narrative gave different perspectives on events as they travelled. In fact, the sections on Russia and Siberia were so interesting, that I have now started reading a book about Gulag Soviet camps [review to follow!].

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