If I was judging this book purely on the underwater photographs, I would have no hesitation in awarding a 5 Star rating. Without that standard of photography, the book would not have received any stars at all.
I ordered this book because I needed to know more about certain areas of the Egyptian Red Sea I was due to visit. Since then, I have conducted professional assignments to three different regions and each time I found the book to be of limited value. This is purely a reference book and, with 52 pages devoted to the principle sites of Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Eritrea combined and a full 64 pages devoted to Egypt, I began to wonder about how much original information I would find in this book... The answer was "Not a lot."
The layout is generally very good but, for those photographs that are captioned, descriptions such as "A wave breaking on a healthy reef of stony corals" (Stony Corals. What are they?) or "Divers exploring the wreck of a cruising yacht in the Deep South" (a yacht, incidentally, that is not mentioned anywhere else in the entire book.), left me somewhat bemused.
The book is packed with the sort of information one needs to know. Unfortunately, I soon found myself mistrusting almost everything written. All writers and their publishers have a duty of care towards the reader and it is vitally important that the "general information" on such topics as Culture, Religion, Climate, Visas etc are correct. It is also important that the Diving information is accurate and well-researched. Because this element of the book (and after all, it is a "Diving Guide.") is lacking in so many areas, it brings into question the accuracy of all the information given.
Take for example the Sudanese shipwreck described as the "Labanzo." For the record the correct name is "Levanzo" - a vessel built in 1901 and lost in 1940. The book also contains that perennial favourite the "Sarah H" in Egypt. When this shipwreck was first discovered in the 1970's her true identity was unknown and the finders promptly named her after their own diving guide Sarah Hillel. The ship's real name is, of course, the "Kingston" - something that has been known to Divers with a knowledge of the area for something like 10 years before this book was published...
On the "Up" side, I did find the vast majority of the underwater images to be quite outstanding - almost all of which are by Alex Misiewicz - whose work I have long admired. Sadly, many of the surface shots appear to be very old and out-of date and the only photograph attributed to the author is one of a camel...
This book has the potential to be an excellent guide but somebody needs to go back to the proof reading stage, remove the glaring errors, double check all the facts and update the surface photography before we can put our faith into this product. As I said "Very Disappointing."
on 25 May 2010
The reviews of this book are very unfair. it basically follows the same format as the much vaunted Lonely Planet Diving and Snorkeling Guide to the Red Sea. Ok, it doesn't have exact GPS co-ordinates and to scale sailing maps but how many dive guides do? And more to the point, how may dive guides need to? -- your liveaboard or day boat will take you to, and brief you on, each site you visit.