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Libya (Lonely Planet Country Guides) [Paperback]

Anthony Ham
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 2002 Lonely Planet Country Guides
Covering the splendours of the Sahara, from rock art, isolated lakes, mud-brick towns and magnificent sand dunes, this book is the ideal companion for travel to the country. Contains a special section on Roman and Greek ruins along the Mediterranean coast, as well as a historical and cultural overview for in-flight reading.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications (1 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0864426992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0864426994
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 12.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,194,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Until the second half of the twentieth century, Libya was cursed by its geography, which put it in the path of the invading empires of Europe and the Middle East. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent travel guide for Libya 22 Mar 2004
I wish there had been such a book when I lived in Libya for 5 years from 1977, and during many business trips since. I really cannot find much to fault in this book. It presets Libya as it is. A great place to visit, providing you don't want a normal package tour and lifes little luxuries. The book clearly spells all this out, and clearly shows how to cope in the 'out of the way' locations (anywhere except Tripoli and Benghazi!).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still quite useful 17 Sep 2010
The first edition of Lonely Planet's guidebook to Libya (written by Anthony Ham) was published in 2002. I had it with me on a trip to Libya in 2004 during which I was able to check some of the information presented in the book.

I visited the ancient sites on or near the northern coast in the western part of the country (Tripolitania) and the eastern part of the country (Cyrenaica). But I did not visit the southern part of the country (Fezzan), so I was not able to check what the book says about this area.

This book gives you information about local transport (how to get from A to B). There is also information about hotels and restaurants. But most visitors will not need any of this information, because they will travel on a package tour, where a travel agency will arrange local transport and pick the hotels and restaurants.

Because of Libya's special visa system and the rules for foreigners, it is (almost) impossible to travel on your own. You must travel with a group and follow a fixed itinerary. But this does not have to be a bad thing.

What you need from a guidebook is general information about the history of the country and specific information about the sites you are going to visit. A local guide will probably show you around, but it is always good to know something about the place in advance.

Using my experience as a yardstick I have to say that this is a good guidebook which gives you a lot of useful information. However, I have to point out a few mistakes in the text:

(a) On pp. 150-151 we hear about the monumental tombs of Ghirza. Ham says "the northernmost tomb features particularly fine stonework atop some of the pillars, and a Roman eagle above the door with Latin inscriptions.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Travelling Companion! 26 May 2004
A country of mysteries and the unknown this book guides you through Libya with a helping hand.
Whether you are there for business or pleasure the Lonely Planet guide gives you an excellent insight into this little known country. The publication provides excellent cultural, social and historical background advice as well as information on the best of Libya's sites and cities. This guide will enable you to get the most out of your trip.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up and coming place to visit 11 Oct 2004
By Peter M & Maria C - Published on
Libya is not a country yet used to having many visitors from the western world (with the possible exception of Italians) so vistors should not expect too much in terms for five star comforts - or at least not yet as things are already beginning to change. It is a place well worth visiting however and this guide is very helpful in both planning your trip and finding your way around. One of the greatest tourist assests this country has are the remarkable Roman and Greek ruins at various sites throughout the country - in particular the spectular Greek ruins at Cyrene in the east of the country. (These make the acropolis of Athens look pathetic by comparison). The outlines and maps provided by Lonely Planet of these archeological sites proved accurate and helpful and allowed us to get much more out of guided tours than we could have otherwise.
The guide proved remarkabley accurate in assessment of the quality of hotels, restaurants and sites to visit. So much so that our Libyan guide from one of the local tour companies was delighted when we gave him our copy at the airport on our departure. It should be noted that the authors have a somewhat rosey view of things - they don't mention the fact that a lot of litter is strewn throughout the country, a lot of people are not especially friendly (though many are) but they are right in pointing out that it is a relativley safe place to visit. All in all a smart investment for anyone visiting the country.
48 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Far too 'positive' about Libya, and with some inaccuracies 12 Sep 2002
By Maurizio Giuliano - Published on
By all means, this Lonely Planet guide is an extremely useful tool for those travelling in Libya, and is probably the best guidebook about the country. The author and editors have put some great work into it, resulting in an excellent achievement in terms of overall coverage and book's presentation. Few other Lonely Planet guides are as interesting and fascinating to read as this one, so filled with thrilling information on history and culture, with great anecdotes and stories about Libya's wonders. But the problem is, exactly, that this guidebook is too filled with Libya's alleged 'wonders', making Libya truly appear a real dream-country for the visitor - which, very arguably, it is not. So, if you have already made your mind about going to Libya, by all means you should take this book with you. But if you are tempted to visit Libya mainly because you have been enchanted by this book, as might indeed happen given the book's excellent prose and contents, then you should think twice. The author seems to have made great friends in Libya and have enjoyed the country greatly, and I am glad for him. But please do note: Libya is far from being a pleasant place filled with "the most pleasant people on Earth" (book's wording). I have so far been to 155 sovereign nations, and to my chagrin I am sorry to say that I have found no other place on Earth as harsh, boring and outright tidious as Libya - I enjoyed Somalia, Sierra Leone and Kosovo far more ! If you are looking for Arabic warmth, Morocco or Tunisia are a much better bet. If you are looking for desert, you have a whole half-continent to consider, including nearby Algeria. If you wish to go somewhere 'new', maybe try Cuba or Iran. And I don't see why would one bother with Libya's ancient Roman ruins, since Italy is just opposite, on the other side of the Mediterranean. And if Libya fascinates you because of its alleged dangers and novelty, plenty of other alternatives exist, from Syria to Yemen. As regards the people too, I have not had the pleasant experiences which the guidebook seems to guarantee: without wishing to stereotype a whole people, I must say that I have found a great deal of arrogant, cheating, rude and inhospitable people among Libyans. Therefore my advice simply is: please take this book's positive words very cautiously. Many inacuraccies or misrepresentations are also contained in the book. The whole range of Tripoli's top-end hotels (allegedly 5-stars), listed very positively in the book, are in reality no more than low 3-stars properties with appallingly low or inexistent customer service. Some of the restaurants listed simply don't exist, or are horribly disappointing compared to the book's description. The whole procedure of getting a visa is described in the book in a way that makes it seem complex and lawyerly, while in reality I was able to get a visa very straight-forward, and was amazed by the lack of bureaucracy encountered along the process. Having said all this, thereby placing this book below the excellent standard usually offered by Lonely Planet, the book is indeed a great achievement in terms of coverage of the whole nation. In a region so hard to get to know, the author has been able to cover small towns and villages, albeit with errors, in a way that is amazing and wonderful. And as mentioned previously, the book is so rich with facts about Libya, that it makes fascinating reading, by all means great for the armchair traveller, and for those wishing to dream of a wonderful Libya. Indeed, I wish Libya were really as the author describes it...
4.0 out of 5 stars LIVING IN LIBYA POEMS 28 May 2014
By Blacksunne - Published on
THIS IS AN EXCELLENT BOOK. To get a vivid sense of what it was like to live in Libya in the early 1980s read DIS-SHELTER OF BEING by Hermann Pommern. The entire central section of this book of poems offers a reflection on the classical Libya of the Roman Empire, as well as accounts of living in the Libya of Kaddaffi's time.
8 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I agree with Mr. Giuliano... 2 Jun 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Without having read the book, I can fully agree with Mr. Giuliano's review because I've lived in Tripoli for one year. Libya is all that Mr. Giuliano has written about and more. Streets strewn with plastic bags of all sizes and ages (yes, plastic doesn't seem to rot!), Libyans trying and sometimes succeeding in tricking and cheating you, a total lack of any restaurant that resembles a restaurant. The only place I ever ate at was in a foreigners' camp and most of the time I had Yalla (Montezuma's Revenge) shortly thereafter. Unfortunately I have few fond memories that I have taken with me. I have lived in many countries, some comparable to Libya, but none has left me more disgusted and disappointed than Libya and its hypocrisy. Without the plastic bags and rotting cans, I am sure it could be a beautiful place. I just wasn't shown the pretty places.
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