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Time among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico
     

Time among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico

by Ronald Wright
 

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The Maya created one of the world's most brilliant civilizations, famous for its art, astronomy, and deep fascination with the mystery of time. Despite collapse in the ninth century, Spanish invasion in the sixteenth, and civil war in the twentieth, eight million people in Guatemala, Belize, and southern Mexico speak Mayan languages and maintain their resilient

Overview


The Maya created one of the world's most brilliant civilizations, famous for its art, astronomy, and deep fascination with the mystery of time. Despite collapse in the ninth century, Spanish invasion in the sixteenth, and civil war in the twentieth, eight million people in Guatemala, Belize, and southern Mexico speak Mayan languages and maintain their resilient culture to this day. Traveling through Central America's jungles and mountains, Ronald Wright explores the ancient roots of the Maya, their recent troubles, and prospects for survival. Embracing history, anthropology, politics, and literature, Time Among the Maya is a riveting journey through past magnificence and the study of an enduring civilization with much to teach the present. "Wright's unpretentious narrative blends anthropology, archaeology, history, and politics with his own entertaining excursions and encounters." -- The New Yorker; "Time Among the Maya shows Wright to be far more than a mere storyteller or descriptive writer. He is an historical philosopher with a profound understanding of other cultures." -- Jan Morris, The Independent (London).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While the cultures of the ancient Mayas, Incas and Aztecs are elevated to the status of national icon in Latin America, their modern descendants--barefoot, uneducated, potentially rebellious peasants--are viewed by the Ladino majority (of mixed European ancestry) as obstacles to progress, a source of embarrassment. Traveling on foot, by bush plane, boat and train, Wright explored the home of the ancient and contemporary Mayas. He portrays a people who are shattered but unbroken in spirit. This impressionistic travel diary starts in Belize City, ``a cloacal, clapboard Venice,'' then moves to Guatemala, ``a country where things are easily hidden, especially the truth'' and where a symbiosis of U.S. business interests with the ruling Ladino elite holds down the Indian majority and squelches grass-roots change, according to the author. In the Mexican Yucatan, he ponders a Mesoamerican civilization perpetually aware of its own fragility. A likable companion who shares his breakfast with ocelots and visits remote ruins, Wright ( Cut Stones and Crossroads ) fuses adventure, politics, archeology and history in a riveting read. (Apr.)
KLIATT
Wright first went to Mesoamerica in 1970, partly for a vacation, partly looking for a thesis topic on New World archaeology. The thesis topic never arose, as his career went away from scholarship, but the vacation was enough to create a lifelong, if more informal, interest in the area and, most specifically in the Maya, past and present. Many people probably don't realize the Mayans are not just a vanished civilization, but are a people whose descendents still live in parts of Mexico and Central America. Even as late as the mid-1800s the Maya of Yucatan rebelled; they were crushed, but they still had small independent states until the 1900s. Like many travel writers, Wright has not written a history book, but a book that touches upon history as he relates his own personal journeys. The point is to carry the reader along on his journey and enlighten, as he has been enlightened. Wright does this very well. He obviously loves these people who have endured. "The Maya are a subtle, ancient people who have overcome many things.... The modern Maya are traveling many roads; the hard road of armed resistance, the silent road of refuge; the seductive road of accommodation." As news of uprisings and fights for the rights of indigenous people continue from both Mexico and Guatemala, this book will provide an interesting and readable background for these struggles. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1989, Grove/Atlantic, 453p, notes, bibliog, index, 21cm, 00-034111, $15.00. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Katherine E. Gillen; Libn., Luke AFB Lib., AZ January 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 1)
Library Journal
Wright takes us along to ancient and modern sites inhabited by Mayan Indians in Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico and concludes that the Maya are not facing extinction from the onslaught of ``civilization'' into their areas, but, on the contrary are surviving as they always have, by grafting new ways onto an ancient base. Spanish conquistadors found cities in America which far surpassed anything in Europe--with tall buildings and an accurate calendar. While the book offers a fine overview of Mayan civilization, it is not for the faint-hearted: It is quite scholarly. Readers interested in the calendar and the Mayan time reference will find this book valuable. For large and special collections.-- Louise Leonard, Univ. of Florida Lib., Gainesville

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802137289
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
08/28/2000
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
899,422
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.22(h) x 1.20(d)

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