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Animals and Plants of the Ancient Maya: A Guide [Paperback]

Carlos Galindo-Leal , Victoria Schlesinger , Juan C. Chab-Medina

RRP: 19.99
Price: 18.08 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 May 2002
A growing interest in all things Maya brings an increasing number of visitors to prehistoric Maya ruins and contemporary Maya communities in Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, western Honduras, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the southern areas of Chiapas and Tabasco, Mexico. For these visitors and indeed everyone with an interest in the Maya, this field guide highlights nearly 100 species of plants and animals that were significant to the ancient Maya and that continue to inhabit the Maya region today. Drawing from the disciplines of biology, ecology, and anthropology, Victoria Schlesinger describes each plant or animal's habitat and natural history, identifying characteristics (also shown in a black-and-white drawing), and cultural significance to the ancient and contemporary Maya. An introductory section explains how to use the book and offers a concise overview of the history, lifeways, and cosmology of the ancient Maya. The concluding section describes the collapse of ancient Maya society and briefly traces the history of the Maya region from colonial times to the present. Based in the San Francisco area, Victoria Schlesinger is a writer, conservationist, and outdoor educator who has lived and conducted research throughout the Maya region with the guidance of Stanford University's Tropical Research Program.

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Review

"Part field guide, part book of vignettes discussing the animals and plants most commonly seen in the Maya area, this fine guide provides a fresh synthesis of anthropological and biological research that will serve as an engaging and practical resource for visitors, students, and burgeoning naturalists." Paul R. Ehrlich, President, Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mayan Natural World Revealed 13 Feb 2002
By Simon N. Worrall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent guide for anyone interested in the Mayan world, both past and present. It is also a useful travel companion to take on a trip to Central America. The illustrations are excellent, and Ms Schlesinger writes ina clear, uncluttered style that is a real pleasure to read. A magical book about a people who saw the world through other eyes than our own.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional! 7 Sep 2002
By Ron Mader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
(Planeta.com Journal) - One of the best books of the past year, this work combines the details of a scientific field guide with anthropological research. The result is outstanding.
Author Victoria Schlesinger tells the story about the animals and plants most commonly seen in Mundo Maya -- Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. The book provides a synthesis of current research and will delight specialists and travelers alike. Chapters focus on Pine-Oak, Cloud and Tropical Forests, Savannas, Mangroves and Coral Reefs.
The book is well illustrated with line drawings by Juan C. Chab-Medina. This is a beautiful book which would make an excellent holiday gift. I'm trying to think of a book that has piqued my interest as much as Animals and Plants of the Ancient Maya, and I'd have to put this a category with Lane Simonian's Defending the Land of the Jaguar. Excellent!
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunningly imaginative guide to the past 18 Jun 2002
By Cass Aldridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is one of those incredibly rare guidebooks that pushes past the confines of the genre and brings something totally fresh to the endeavor. I am not a Maya scholar, but Schlesinger's writing is so evocative that I couldn't help but be totally pulled in by her descriptions of the plants and animals that inhabited the Maya world.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible! 27 Dec 2002
By Army Harmon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is not simply an introduction to South American plants and animals. It is a fascinating journey through Mayan culture, with the role these elements played for the ancient Maya. This book is equal parts history, medicine, education, and adventure. I got it for Christmas and couldn't put it down.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing from the Mayanist perspective 17 Oct 2006
By Cosima69 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I give this book three stars because, from the other reviews, it seems to have been quite good from the naturalist perspective. Unfortunately, I am far more of a Mayanist then a naturalist and from that point of view, the book was a sad disappointment.

First, although the title offers a Mayan concentration, the few references to indigenous cultures would be more appropriately labeled, 'Meso-American', especially as the author either cannot, or simply does not, distinguish one from the other. Many depictions, although easily traced (i.e. to the Aztecs) are labeled simply Meso-American.

Second, there is very little in the text about the plants and animals and their relations to the ancient inhabitants of Meso-America at all. Most entries fail to mention them altogether and the few that do, offer only the scantiest references.

Finally, several of the illustrations and factoid snippets that do relate to the indigenous cultures of Meso-America are woefully out of date. Indeed the author quotes Mayanist 'authorities' that, although laudable for their early work in the field, were of such an eccentric nature that it would be laughable in any other context to refer to their 'scholarship'.

As stated above, I cannot criticize this text from the standpoint of a simple field guide to various flora and fauna, but from the title, I had hoped for much, much more. Perhaps if the publisher would make a few pages available for viewing, this problem would be solved.
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