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A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya [Paperback]

David Freidel , Linda Schele
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: 16.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

14 Oct 1993

The recent interpretation of Maya hieroglyphs has given us the first written history of the New World as it existed before the European invasion. In this book, two of the first central figures in the massive effort to decode the glyphs, Linda Schele and David Freidel, make this history available in all its detail. A Forest of Kings is the story of Maya kingship, from the beginning of its institution and the first great pyramid builders two thousand years ago to the decline of Maya civilization and its destruction by the Spanish. Here the great historic rulers of pre-Columbian civilization come to life again with the decipherment of their writing. At its height, Maya civilization flourished under great kings like Shield-Jaguar, who ruled for more than sixty years, expanding his kingdom and building some of the most impressive works of architecture in the ancient world. Long placed on a mist-shrouded pedestal as austere, peaceful stargazers, the Maya elites are now known to have been the rulers of populous, aggressive city-states.

Hailed as "a Rosetta stone of Maya civilization" (Brian M. Fagan, author of People of the Earth), A Forest of Kings is "a must for interested readers," says Evon Vogt, professor of anthropology at Harvard University.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (14 Oct 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780688112042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688112042
  • ASIN: 0688112048
  • Product Dimensions: 3.7 x 18.4 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 424,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

David Freidel has been a Maya archaeologist for twenty years. He teaches at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.



Linda Schele was a well-known authority on Maya writing and art, and the co-author of many books on the Maya including The Blood of Kings and The Code of Kings. She died in 1998.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
While our first visits to the haunting beautiful ruins that dot the landscape of the Yucatan peninsula were different, we both learned that the Mava are not just a people of the past. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, readable and authoritative! 12 July 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
When I was first introduced to "A Forest of Kings" by Linda Schele and David Freidel, I was, frankly, a bit suspicious. Another book on the Maya by a couple of well-meaning outsiders focusing on bloodletting and the mysterious ballcourts? I was surprised to find this book to be scholarly, highly readable and not goulishly focused on the bloodier aspects of this ancient culture. Their deft translation of Mayan pictographs and symbolism is very well done. The book is loaded with black and white line drawings of carvings and inscriptions with translations along side. There are detailed explanations of Mayan cosmology and an explanation of the calendar reputed to be the most accurate ever invented. It also includes extensive notes for each chapter. I don't know how else they could have been handled, but reading "A Forest of Kings" involved having several book marks at once, so I could read the notes, refer back to other illustrations and photos and keep my place in the text. Over all, it's fascinating reading for an amatuer who's fascinated with the Maya. I only wish I'd had this book when I visited the Yucatan!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I have read this book twice, and recently (Jan-Feb'99) carried it with me on a trip to Palenque and Yucatan. Translated some of the epigraphics at Palenque into Spanish for tourists and employees of the site. Their urgent request: WHERE CAN WE GET THIS WORK IN SPANISH?! The rich, dense text, full of historical and epigraphical references, gives a dense, full picture of Maya culture -- at least the ruling ahau culture -- as it has rarely been seen or published before. The writers have made a good effort at aiming their work at your average lay-Mayanist, who does not possess the expertise or desire to rummage through hundreds of scholarly papers or books dense with pottery sequences. As a result, their work can open knowledge of the ancient American Maya to an audience which hungers to learn more of that history. Please, please, consider publishing a Spanish translation, or, if this has been done, PLEASE publicize and distribute that translation. An entire new world is waiting. The governments and anthropoligical/archeological institutes of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras must understand how many Spanish-speaking people want such a work!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mayan history was never so fun to read! 30 July 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is phenomenal. Linda Schele is a gift to Mayan studies. She brings the Maya to life through her work reading and translating the ancient pictographs. This book has the glyphs themselves translated syllable for syllable in the context of the history as it is understood. Pictures of Mayan art and recreative semi-fictional vignettes literally bring ancient Cental America to life.
For those who want to know more about the Maya but cannot afford a trip to Mexico or Guatemala, this book offers a fascinating look at MesoAmerica that will change your perception of the world.
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