In this follow-up to their around-the-world motorcycle travelogue Long Way Round, actors/bike enthusiasts McGregor and Boorman chronicle an 84-day road trip from Scotland to South Africa. Taking turns with the narrative, both are funny, smart and skilled at evoking the thrill of the open (dusty, sandy, gravelly, pot-holed) road. With a trusty team of logisticians, plus local "fixers" in each country, the duo survive spills, wildlife, nutty drivers, border delays, searing heat and misdirection, while squeezing in some time for sightseeing. A compassionate thread limns the macho derring-do, which includes efforts to raise awareness for UNICEF and other children's charities. Bearing witness to the health and poverty crises in Africa, they put human faces and stories to the statistics, and find hope in a visit with Riders for Health, who bring medical help to hard-to-reach sites via motorcycles: "the most effective answer to the problems of reaching people in remote areas; I could see it working all over the world." Though long and exhausting, McGregor reports of the journey that he "didn't want it to end"; readers-especially fans of their first volume-will likely agree. 20 b&w illus., 48 pages of color photos.
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Two best friends set out on a road trip across Africa. British actors and bosom buddies McGregor and Boorman produced a surprise hit in 2004 with the fun-loving travelogue Long Way Round (2004), which chronicled the duo's adventures as they cruised around the globe on their motorcycles, making friends and delivering wisecracks along the way. They get the travel bug again here, but decide this time to point their headlights toward the often-discussed but seldom-experienced continent of Africa. The authors prepare for the trip in the United Kingdom by learning survival tactics: how to sweet-talk hostile army officers carrying AK-47s, etc. Regrettably, this proves to be the most exciting section of the book. Their preparations suggest hair-raising adventures to come, but what we get when they finally hit the road is more akin to a prosaic vacation. The format is familiar: two dudes on cycles overcoming the usual vehicular emergencies and chatting up the locals. But the narrative lacks energy. Libyan sandstorms and herds of indifferent elephants present some minor dangers, but the authors seem satisfied with simply describing the local scenery. Even their visits to AIDS clinics and UNICEF facilities feel like sterile public-service announcements. The book is redeemed somewhat by the sincerity of the authors, who are truly likable guys, even if their shtick has gotten a little old. An amusing, well-intentioned adventure story that forgot to add the adventure.