on 1 July 1998
This is one of the rare occasions when 5 stars doesn't measure up to the book being rated. I have read every volume of "Incidents..." many times (there are two volumes of this book, as well as two volumes of "Incidents of Travel in Yucatan"), and I've also given the four volumes as gifts many times. Additionally, I have traveled to most of the sites Stephens writes about, with book-in-hand, to simultaneously gaze with wonder at the magnificient sketches made over 150-yrs ago, and at the same objects sketched as they exist today. But this is not the only attraction of these volumes. Unlike most books about archeology, which are dry and overly academic, these volumes vividly recount the exciting, and often dangerous, day-to-day adventures of a couple blokes looking for ancient lost cities in a region that just happens to be smack-dab in the middle of a sanguinary 19th-century civil war. These books could be mistaken for a terrific adventure novel, were it not for the fact that every word is true. Stevens' graphic descriptions of the local characters and events is heavily laced with humor and insight. What a delight these books are. I think I'll start reading them (again!).
on 6 September 2014
This book (and the other volumes by Stephens and Catherwood) is what dreams are made of. I read it at age 19 as an archaeology undergraduate and I have been slinging my hammock across jungle-covered ruins the world over ever since. Through my masters, my PhD, and now my academic career in archaeology, I fall asleep and wake up to the written (and drawn) images in this book. Read it before you visit Central America...and during...and after.
on 26 June 2014
An elegantly written account of the trials and tribulations of travel in Mesoamerica in the mid nineteenth century, which coloufully describes the hostile conditions and the chaotic nature of the lack of politics in the region at the time, while making light of the admirable fortitute shown by the author. I had hoped for more information on Mayan ruins which is why I've dropped a star, but as a travel book it's worth the full five.