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Cuba (Moon Handbooks) Paperback – 26 Jan 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 670 pages
  • Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing; 2nd Revised edition edition (26 Jan 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566912091
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566912099
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.9 x 18.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,379,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Moon Handbooks exude a road-wise, close-to-the-ground authority. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
Outside Cuba, all phone and fax numbers given here need to be preceded by "53-7," the codes for Cuba and Havana respectively, except where area codes otherwise noted in parentheses. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Sep 2001
Format: Paperback
C.Baker's guide book helped as a real guide book should, it was full of detail on beaches, hotels, where to eat(not easy in a country where there are not many official restaurants), transport, and wildlife. By browsing this book I was able to make an informed decision about my itinerary in what is still a relatively closed country, and where information is sometimes confused and difficult to get(such as timetables and prices etc.)His enthusiasm for trying out the local sights and produce inspired me to travel more widely than I had expected and even half way through the holiday I was still looking up references to new places to go to "off-the-cuff" because the book recommended it. Baker was usually correct in most things especially reviews of whether a place or hotel was worth a visit, however since the time of writing the prices in all the Cuban establishments have gone up by at least 30-40% but this is a constant hazard of all travel writing. The outlines of history, people, events and sections on flora & fauna are encyclopaedic. If only all guide books were as comprehensive, but at 670 pages you have to make the concession of information over weight.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Comprehensive But Badly Organized 20 May 2001
By Iggy Todd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Baker's "Cuba Handbook" is unbelievably detailed and comprehensive. And those attributes are at the root of what makes the book wonderful and a pain in the butt. For example, the first 200 to 300 pages of this book (in other words, the entire length of a typical guidebook) is devoted to geography, flora, fauna, and a very good primer on the history of Cuba -- information that is good for pre-travel reading, but not particularly useful when one is there.
The city of Havana takes up another 200 pages or so. Every detail of Havana is covered, from the most exhaulted buildings and museums, to the most trivial and mundane aspects of the city. But organization is sorely lacking. This is a book that is a daunting challenge in any respect to carry around with you (at 600+ pages, the book alone might tip the scales at airport check-in).
One thing we were unprepared for during the trip is the sheer volume of attractions compacted in Old Havana. While Baker cannot be faulted for devoting a good amount of space in the book to these dazzling places and describing their unique details, they are unbelievably difficult to find in the book because they are not organized in the same fashion typical of many guidebooks (i.e., numbered and cross-referenced on a map). Instead, Baker uses the bizarre tactic of organizing Old Havana attractions by street in a straight linear pattern, making it daunting to find his comments on a particular building or museum if one decides to just wonder around. In other words, Baker expects that even if you are staying in the middle of Obispo street, as we were, you should walk blindly through to where the street originates so that then, and only then, you can follow along with his narrative. In fact, he offers no help whatsover in suggested walking tours anywhere in the country. Imagine a guidebook for New York being written so as to describe all of the attractions on Broadway, from lower Manhattan to the upper west side, then immediately continuing by describing the attractions on Greenwich back in lower Manhattan, and you get a good idea of what passes for "organization" in this book. Apparantly, the author and publisher expect you to travel a street in A to Z fashion, then continue on a parallel street back at A, with no numerical cross-references on a map to boot.
I referenced the book while traveling in the area of the Bay of Pigs two weeks ago. First of all, there is not much to see or do in the Bay of Pigs other than to go to the beach (and there are much better beaches), despite Baker's claims and long passages about this area. The museum, which Baker raves about ("superb," he calls it), I found terribly amatuerish (guns...lots of guns...and very poor quality photos and captions). If you have seen one Revolutionary museum in Cuba (and there are much better ones in Havana), then you have seen them all. It is a long detour to go to the Bay of Pigs only to find that there is not much to see once there, unless one is going to go through the nature preserve of Zapata. Buried in the book is a very useful detail that, once leaving the Bay of Pigs, make sure and take the first fork, because the second fork is a road that is unmaintained. Unfortunately, this valuable detail was so carefully hidden amidst other lengthy prose that I did not see it until being well into the bad road.
Further complicating matters, is that Cuba is in a state of massive remodeling. Old Havana's and Trinidad's museums are in a state of massive restoration or adaptive reuse (for example, Casa Brunet in Trinidad is closed for a year of remodeling), and that makes some of Baker's descriptions moot. There are two massive art museums under construction right now. By the way, the architecure museum in Trinidad (and the wonderful guide there) is one of the best museums we saw in the country and gets only scant mention in this book. Also, I disagreed with many of Baker's beach recommendations -- the most astounding beach I witnessed, 23 kilometers of perfect and untouristed sand and water, was near Remedios (Cayo de Las Brujas/Cayo de Santa Maria), virtually ignored by Baker but given a strong recommendation in Fodor's.
Despite its shortcomings, I found much useful information. With better organization, this book would easily be the essential guide to Cuba. Unfortunately, I could never figure out how to retain all of Baker's good details in a valuable way for my journey. This book needed a hard-nosed editor with a whip and a strong sense of organization. I bought virtually all of the guidebooks for Cuba, and a better guide for pratical travel purposes is Fodor's (I am usually not a fan of their books, but their Cuba guide is excellent in all respects).
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is the book to get! 26 Mar 2001
By Laura Holzcroft - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While traveling in Cuba, I had more than one traveler spot my book and then ask to borrow it. Chris Baker obviously knows Cuba quite well. Lonely Planet and Roughguide do not even come close to the thoroughness that he offers in the Cuba Handbook (our group was carrying a copy of each of these as well.) When the worst struck and all of my travel partner's belongings were stolen, the book was INVALUABLE - it contains a complete listing of all of the help services out there and ways to negotiate the Cuban police system and government offices.
A few critiques: in reality prices tended to be lower than reported in the book (a nice change!), the book did not address the "low income" traveler as much as I would have liked, the maps of Havana are not detailed enough. Guess I should have gotten the Havana Handbook too!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
If you have no internet, this will help...some 4 Mar 2003
By "travler_mt" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is now 3 years old. The info is getting more outdated by the day. Casa particulares sites are easy to find. You pay an extra 10$ per day but you can make reservations on line with little trouble. The CPs are now taxed and regulated and easy to find by virtue of the blue and white triangles the display. His book on Havana isn't much better even though it is a new edition. Unless you're a technophobe, stick with the internet and print out what you need. The best part of both books are the maps for getting oneself oriented. I find out in two months how much updating they need as far as points of reference.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The BIBLE for Cuba 31 Dec 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have been to Cuba many, many times. This is, without a doubt, the ultimate source on this wonderful land. It is honest about Cuba, its people and history, and avoids the smug "know it all" political correctness of the Lonely Planet guide. It is also far more detailed and insightful.
Cuba is challenging place to know and understand. There are multiple levels to it. This book allows the beginner and experienced Cuba traveler alike to dig deep in its enigmatic ways.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The definitive guide to Cuba -a must have for Cuba travelers 31 July 2001
By fdoamerica - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When I was in Havana, I brought this, and five other guide books on Cuba. The five star rating for these gudes goes to this prolific author Christopher Baker and his superb guide.
Christopher Baker is an accomplished "tell it like it is" writer. He has a flowing writing style that keeps you engaged even during the dryer parts of a guide book.
His condensed (38 pages) history of Cuba is one of the best I have yet read in any travel guide. Regarding his sections on Government, Economy, Society and the People, Christopher Baker's writing overshadows the other guides.
After using his guide to investigate, and select,accommodations, food and sights to see in Cuba, I found only one case where the information was not current and that was with a restaurant that had closed. His reviews of accommodations and restaurants were informative, selectively bias and up to date; these are the most important characteristics of a good guide book. He has included superb imbedded blocks of pertinent subjects (i.e., Earnest Hemingway, Chi Guevara, Fidel Castro, the Cuban missile crisis, the special period, sex & tourism etc.), good black & white photos, scores of side bar topics that are full of informative caveats, a good selection of maps and the beginning of web site and Internet addresses.
You owe it to yourself to get the best guide available before you visit Cuba: Get Cuba by Christopher Baker. Highly recommended
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