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on 2 July 2009
I like others thoroughly enjoyed the two 'long ways' and the Race to Dhaka. This though is something else. Everything is all a bit clichéd and to be honest I couldn't really see the point of the trip. For example the 'by any means' to me actually means 'I haven't got any form of transport' (or presumably money) and hence must take (via hitching etc) any means to get from A to B. In this case `by any means' really actually 'means' (OK enough means) how many forms of transport can be 'ticked' off, in effect to make the trip look like a crazy caper which in reality it isn't. The TV show demonstrates this with the inherent and rather annoying 'ticker' of forms of transport. So what I could go to London for the day, ride the tram, tube etc....you get the picture. The second thing is that the writing is actually quite dull and lacks much in the way of depth i.e. I got up, met this bloke, we did this, ate this, saw this. All very good but excluding the bits with some history like Cambodia this type of writing is dull. Finally the last thing which got me was the constant whining about missing the kids and missus. OK if you're serving in Iraq, but if you're doing a big jolly which I presume was done with a book/dvd in mind this gets a little annoying. In summary I enjoyed it but it's nothing special.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 October 2009
Having previously travelled on motorbike from London to New York via Europe, Central Asia, Siberia, Alaska and Canada on Long Way Round, and from John O'Groats to Cape Town on Long Way Down, Charley Boorman sets out on another adventure. This time the motorbikes (and previous wingman Ewan McGregor, who was busy filming) have been left behind as Boorman sets out from his childhood home in County Wicklow, Ireland, aiming to get to Sydney, Australia, travelling by any means of transport he can find. The result is a 20,000-mile odyssey through twenty-five countries.

Having enjoyed Long Way Round when the book and TV series appeared in 2004, I was disappointed with Long Way Down when it appeared. Aware of the mishaps and problems they'd had on the first journey, Long Way Down had been timetabled and planned to such an extent that a lot of the fun spontaneity of the earlier mission was lost, and the strict timetable meant that Ewan and Charley had to skip interesting areas they were passing in order to hit certain locations at certain times. This proved to be a point of contention on the African trip, and it wasn't until past the halfway point that they could finally relax and chill out a bit.

For By Any Means the goal was to reinstate this sense of spontaneity. As well as that, the decision to ditch the bikes was taken because travelling by motorbike through some of the areas they were heading to - particularly island-hopping from Malaysia down through Indonesia to Australia - would have been logistically difficult. Dropping the bikes and travelling through mostly inhabited areas along the way also meant that there was no need for the support vehicles and teams which, although important from a safety perspective, had eroded the 'two guys against the elements' feel of the two trips, particularly the second. Finally, whilst the bikes had been important for eating as many miles as possible per day (particularly on the first trip, which almost circumnavigated the globe), it also meant that contact with the locals was fairly limited. The new approach conversely relied on talking to local people and making use of local means of transport.

The book successfully complements the TV series. Interestingly, the book relates stories not mentioned at all in the TV series, whilst skipping some elements that were much more heavily focused on in the series. Charley's visit to Angkor Wat was a major part of the TV show but is here covered only briefly, whilst a visit to another, lesser-known temple wasn't even mentioned on the show but is given coverage in the book, for example. This avoids the problem of repetition between the two mediums, and is helpful if you're planning to get both the book and the DVD.

The steps taken by the team do mean that By Any Means is a more engaging story and trip than Long Way Down. Many of the locals they meet whose stories they hear simply wouldn't have been encountered with the bikes roaring past at 70mph. Logistically the expedition isn't perhaps quite as spontaneous as it first appears: a support team in London arrange several modes of transport ahead of time and at one point the gang is defeated in their attempts to enter Burma and have to take a commercial flight to get to China instead.

Still, the journey is an impressive achievement, and Charley Boorman's down-to-earth style is readable and entertaining. 'Proper' travel writers appear to be a bit snooty about these expeditions (a sequel to this journey, in which Boorman travels on from Sydney, up through Papua New Guinea and the Philippines to Tokyo, is currently airing on BBC-2 in the UK) since Boorman doesn't really get to grips with the politics or socio-economic backgrounds to these countries, but that's not really the point. Boorman's concern is meeting the local ordinary people and finding out how they live their lives under different circumstances. This 'theme' is actually successfully handled, as the way of life between bus drivers in Turkey, one of the few female taxi drivers in Tehran and cattle drovers in Australia's Outback is contrasted. The conclusion - people are people wherever you go - might not be shockingly revelatory, but it is nicely handled nonetheless. There's also some ironic interest to be gleaned from the fact that Iran, the country the team was most concerned about crossing, turned out to be one of the friendliest and most welcoming they visited and had possibly the least security concerns.

By Any Means (***½) is a breezy and entertaining account of a genuinely impressive journey around the world. The book is available now in the UK and USA.

By Any Means 2 is currently airing in the UK and a new McGregor/Boorman motorbike trip, possibly through South America, is being planned for next year with the working title Long Way to Go.
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on 3 September 2012
What a potboiler. Boorman has nothing to say, observe, learn or disseminate and spends several hundred pages doing so. The mission is nothing more than a box ticking exercise organised by a team inLondon, his knowledge of where he is and his capacity to shed light is zero , and his philosophies on life would disgrace a pub bore. Tedious, pointless and utterly unrevealing. Life is too short to waste time on this stuff, or on any longer review.
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on 27 August 2009
After reading `Long Way Round' and `Long Way Down' and being very disappointed by the writing style and constant bickering between Boorman and McGregor, I vowed not to read any more book by them again. Then I saw a signed copy of `By Any Means' in a bookshop for a ludicrously cheap price and couldn't resist and I'm glad to say it has gone some way to redeeming Boorman and his TV tie-in books. Maybe that is because this is written with the help of another author, or maybe it's because there's none of the bickering, or maybe it's because I found the idea intriguing, but whatever the reason this made for an enjoyable and easy going travelogue. The journey itself is amazing and the variety of countries visited maintains your interest throughout. It does get a touch repetitive at times, with the usual theme being get up after lack of sleep, find unusual form of transport, miss wife and family and reach destination, the odd additional aspect of the journey stand out in comparison and make them more enjoyable to read. There are many colour photo plates which illustrate the various countries and stories told very well and are a real highlight of the book. If you enjoyed the series then I'm guessing you'll also enjoy the book , although there is nothing new here that you didn't see on TV. You'll also enjoy this if you enjoy armchair travel books and although it's not brilliant, it is still a very good read and much better after the uninspiring dross that were the books of `LWR' and `LWD'.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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on 22 September 2009
Whilst it feels odd that Charley is doing this incredible trip without Ewan McGregor...the reality is that in many ways this kind of Travel Documentary made famously by Michael Palin with his now legendry 'Around the World in 80 Days'...brings about a sort of jealous streak in many individuals like myself who would dearly love to be able to leave home and make out to a far destination just like that!
But in reality it doesn't happen - Just like that!
Months and months of planning routes...obtaining travel visas...necessary documentation of the items being carried...medical check-ups...insurance...various amounts of different currency...Oh! the hightmare of planning is enough to put the majority of people off...
Thankfully, this set of people with Charley on this long-haul trip using a vast load of different modes of travel from : Motorbikes, Cars, Buses, Horses, Ships, Boats, etc. may not be for the fainthearted, but this was proved to be not a problem, there was the waiting game at Customs Posts when it came to documentation and photocopies were not acceptable...so the originals had to be sent out so progress could be made towards the finishing line in Australia.
This book and indeed the DVD of the programmes seen on TV I most certainly recommend, but unless you are thinking of following in Charley's footsteps...use it for the enjoyment it can bring and not necessarily as a bible to do the same...mind you in some parts of Britain you could try the same...Bus to Train Station - Train to Blackpool...Taxi to Hotel...Walk onto Prom...Catch Tram to Pleasure Beach...Oh! the endless various rides at Pleasure Beach...Log Plum/PepsiMax/Umberellas the variants go on and on...no passport or visa required...take sick bag just in case...
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on 11 February 2016
I was introduced to this man Charley Boorman, through the amazing TV series, 'A Long way round', I started watching that because of my love for Ewan Mcgregor, a few years before, but for thisbook (& tv series/dvd) you need to clear you head of all thoughts of the amazing two series 'Long way round' and Long way down', his previous adventures with Ewan Mcgregor and read this with a new set of eyes you can not compare them.

'By any means' is a fantastic read featuring an inspiring journey, one where Chraley Boorman sets off alone, well, not complete alone, he is joined with Russ and Mungo the cameraman (and a small support team behind the scenes) who both feature a lot throughout the book, the team approach to this adventurous journey give off a real 'friendship vibe' to the whole trip. It goes to show its not all about motorbikes like previous shows/books!

Like all of his travel stories, this series really gave me itchy feet, his enthusiasm for travel, adventure, meeting new people and life, is infectious.

It is a 'Pringle' of a book, 'once you pop you can't stop', when you start to read it, make sure you have time to read it all the way through, you will not want to put it down, prefect holiday read.

Even if you have not seen the tv series or watched the DVD you can imagine the amazing scenery of all the countries through which they travel through the book, it creates great imagery through great descriptions', with a selection of brilliant photos.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves an adventure and wants an 'armchair adventure'. I would also recommend the dvd it's a great watch and really brings the book to life.

I own this in both paper back and hard back, when to read and one to look good on the shelf and the dvd!

I will be buying, reading and watching any of his future adventures.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 October 2014
While I was aware of two previous books by this author, involving long distance motorbike rides, I hadn't read any. I wasn't aware that his exploits had been filmed for BBC or that he's the son of film director John Boorman. All this knowledge is taken for granted by the author. I thought he might consider that his first books could attract a motorbike-specialist readership, perhaps, whereas this 'by any mode of transport' challenge held a broader appeal. I'm at a loss to know how he paid for this trip and supported his family as he doesn't say, but maybe the BBC paid him a wage and expenses. He never mentions who paid for everything.

A three-month trek from Wicklow to southern Australia and to Sydney seems like a lot of travel when each leg has to be booked separately and no scheduled air flights are included unless absolutely essential. The Orient Express was a glamorous start - after the obligatory motorbikes of course. From there matters went downhill as Charley and his couple of guy pals crossed borders, experienced heat and humidity, rode in tuk-tuks and overcrowded buses and trains, floated on boats from container ships to cement barges and straddled elephants.

While the author has to be admired, and met awful sea conditions including sinking boats and foul weather for days, he did seem to be constantly rushing to get to the next guide with a truck and not taking in that much of the life and environment, which had been his stated aim. He does show us the most polluted town in the world - on a lake of oil in Eurasia - and he feels uncomfortable in a religious state where women are veiled, all but his plucky female taxi driver. His observations are almost all about people, not nature.

I liked seeing the two medical runs that the crew participated in with UNICEF, a great charity. This group uses public transport and local staff as much as humanly possible, so nobody gets helicoptered in to a New Guinea hill village - it's a five day boat and climb trek with vaccines which are in a dry ice box and must not get warm. We start to wonder whether the people in extremely remote areas are really doing the right thing by staying there instead of coming to where there are education, medical care, food and employment opportunities for their children. But while they are there, they are being helped.

This is a reasonable read for the variety, lads-outing, friendships and many alternate and basic lifetyles shown. The writing is peppered with sentences beginning 'it had' or 'there was' so not wonderful, just jotted observations. Given that the author regularly bemoans having left his wife and two kids for three months, he may not take off for a while on any more trips.
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on 13 March 2009
i have really enjoyed is exploits in the past and the race to dakar was the best, but i'm sorry this just did not do it for me at all.
a case of its all been done before and watching a middle class some time actor having a trip no sorry.
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on 4 August 2014
Brilliant. I'd recommend this to anyone who dreams of adventure travel and if that's not achievable then at least reading about it! Charley comes across as one of life's good guy's.
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on 6 July 2013
I just love his books, I feel like being on the road myself, I recognise many places he talks about and I thank Charley for reminding me of them!
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