Life On The Line by Jeremy Bullard
|Life On The Line by Jeremy Bullard|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A 33,000-mile and fourteen-country trip through the Americas. It's compelling reading with an engaging mix of the personal, the local and history.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: February 2012|
|Publisher: Blue-Footed Publishing|
|External links: Author's website|
Jeremy Bullard began his working life as a Chartered Accountant but eventually realised that the most exciting part of the day was his journey to work on his moped. Next came a spell as a IT Consultant into which he put heart and soul and only just escaped with his sanity. A mental breakdown and a spell in The Priory convinced him that he had to rethink his life choices and high on the list was a long-distance trip on a motorbike. The first two trips - from London to Cape Town and the reverse - were aborted and we join him as he attempts his most ambitious journey. He's heading from New York to the very south of South America. Oh, and he's taking in the Galapagos and Easter Island.
I'm not a biker, but all my life I've had a fascination with South America. The trip from NewYork to Mexico was a bedding in of himself and his KTM 640 Adventure motorbike along with the sixty-odd modifications he'd made to the machine. It was a learning process too - not the least being to keep your wallet safe as driving long distances in the hope of spotting where it fell out of your pocket might not have such a happy outcome the next time around. The scene is also set for the way that we're going to tackle this 33,000 mile journey.
Every chapter (there are twenty four of them) begins with a map. I can perve over a good map - and these are very good, with enough information to allow you to keep track of that chapter's journey and also to place it in the context of the trip as a whole. Cities and landmarks are shown but you're not overburdened with unnecessary information. The text which follows is an engaging mix of the personal - Jeremy's reactions to the area and how he coped with that leg of the journey - the local and the historical.
Giving historical detail is a delicate balancing act: give too little and we don't understand what we're seeing. Give too much and we might as well have read a history book. The only point where I felt the book strayed too far into the history of an area was with Easter Island - but then the island IS about its history. For the rest the balance was well maintained with pithy anecdotes providing just enough historical background. The local element is strong too - there's a natural empathy with the people Jeremy meets and you feel that he brings out the best in them for our enjoyment. I particularly loved the photos which showed the local people.
A journey of this nature is as much about finding yourself as seeing the places you want to see. Jeremy's open about his successes and his failures or misjudgements. Buying the bicycle was NOT a good idea - not least because it involved a misjudgement of two people and one was particularly wounding. On a more positive note Jeremy learned a lt about his reactions to danger and adversity - and about when to let go. It also gave him the opportunity to think about his father's life and death and some of these pieces were particularly poignant.
I've not told you a great deal about the places visited and I'm not going to. There are fourteen countries - some surprising ones are loved and others that I expected would hit the spot fail miserably. There are journeys which are hair-raising because of the state of the road, or the altitude or the climate and other where the difficulty of keeping alert on long tedious stretches is vividly shown.
The book was a surprisingly quick read. I thought it would be a book I picked up and put down, almost like a book of short stories but I found that I was hooked very quickly and the temptation to read just another chapter was too much to resist.
I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If the Galapagos interests you then we've various reviews of books about Charles Darwin. If Life On The Line appeals to you then we think that you might also enjoy Access All Areas: Selected Writings 1990-2010 by Sara Wheeler.
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