I've seen the 10-part Full Circle tv series, and I had a serious addiction from the start. When it ended, I went through a withdrawl period. I silently rocked myself in a chair in my room repeating "I must get the book,... must find book...must read book." I've got it now and I'm back on a Full Circle high. The book goes into details that they never had time for on the series. It tells you everything that you would have noticed had you been in Japan or Australia or Chile. Ahh... I can imagine myself right now on the streets of China getting a massage from a blind man.
Michael Palin does it again with Full Circle. Starting in Alaska Michael travels anti-clockwise around the rim of the Pacific Ocean visiting countries as diverse as Russia, Korea, Viet Nam, New Zealand, Colombia and the west coast of North American. He tells of his adventures getting to and exploring some fantastic natural wonders, visiting a Russian gulag with a former inmate, the relief of Japan, the Vietnamese reactions to a westerner, the biggness of Australia and the hardworking people of South America. The section on the United States is short and not always sweet. Palin is taken aback by the physical bigness of Americans, and rush, and loudness. By the time he reaches Canada and attends a "lumberjack" fair (no singing Mounties included!) he really "wants to go home". We also learn a bit about how the series and book were produced, his wife Helen and their children, and that being on a job for the BBC doesn't always mean smooth sailing! Michael's friend Basil Pao took the photographs - he also joined Michael on "Around the World in Eighty Days". I can highly recommend this book and not only to fans of Monty Python - it doesn't end how you might expect!
I have to say the only reason I gave this book a 9 instead of a 10 is because I saw the video series first and nothing can top that. One night, I flipped on PBS and was drawn into this program of Michael Palin traveling 50,000 miles around the Pacific Rim. First I wondered who would be crazy enough to do this. Then I wondered why anyone would do it AND film it. Then, I have to admit, I was so enthralled with this journey that I started looking for each episode to appear in my weekly TV Guide so I could write it out in bold letters on my calendar. I was hooked. Once the series was over, I was dejected until I walked into the bookstore one day and there was the companion book to the series. Of course I snatched up a copy and took it home. I have read it from cover to cover and loved every bit. It is an unflinching account of the journey, detailing the most mundane to the awe-inspiring, and Palin has a nice way of telling his story with just enough humor to stomach the realities of this trip. There are many times I feel as if I am right there with the author, experiencing everything he is....but I get to do it from the comfort of my armchair.
Travelling with Michael is to say the least exhilarating, fun, adventurous and a journey of discovery. While many can only dream of actually making the trip, Michael Palins' books are the next best thing. It's not just where he goes, but how he does it and perhaps most importantly: seeing it through his mind's eye, which needless to say can make humor out of nothingness. All you need is to relax and have the urge to increase your imagination. A wild but educative ride!
While sitting in the back of a rather unpleasant taxi cab, wondering how to make weather conversation intersting, I would quickly tune out and tune into Full circle. Instantly I was able to travel with Michael Palin to the jungles of the Amazon or stand at the tip of Cape Horn. What makes this book is not the places, but the appreciative, humous understanding of the author as he records his experiences as he undertakes a "hair brained" journey.
If you love to read about exciting and exotic places, this is your book. If you like history, this is your book. If you like Michael Palin, this is your book. If you just like to read, THIS IS YOUR BOOK. I suggest you read the book first and THEN see the video series (although either stands perfectly well alone).