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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 15 July 1999
Michael Coe tells the story of the Maya civilisation in his usual vivid and captivating style. Latest notes from the excavations in Nakbe, Guatemala bring this account pretty up-to-date. Shorter and less comprehensive than "The Ancient Maya" by R. Sharer, but this is a much quicker read. Great for anyone interested in finding out the basic facts about the Maya of Central America.
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on 29 June 1999
This book contains a condensed history of an ancient civilisation, which we know so little about. However, the author has managed to collate scattered pieces of information into a very readable yet pertinent book. If you are planning a trip down to Mexico or Guatemala to see the pyramids, I'd suggest you pick up a copy and learn about the history behind those great constructions!
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on 1 February 2010
This is a book to start on a weekend morning curled up in bed and stay there until you've finished. It is a story of obsessive love written with the voice of the ordinary man, set mainly in contemporary London. None of the characters are particularly attractive, not Steve the narrator and his rather boring wife, nor Maya, most famous/beautiful film star in the world and object of his obsession, or any of her entourage. But there is something strangely compelling about this story of our modern media/24 hour news/celebrity driven world. Something Campbell of course knows a lot about. It would of course be a far less interesting book if it were not written by him. You can't help looking for the clues he leaves or teases us with or try and break the coded messages. How much of this is re-packaged fact from his Blair years? Is it a parable for his relationship with Blair? And if not who is Maya? And although there is little respite from the cynical, manipulative world of fame, I felt at the end Campbell had let go of something even though he might not have found what he was looking for. So get tucked up and enjoy.
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on 24 August 2009
If you want to know about mayan civilization , i guess this is the best book you can get for a beginner . well wrtitten no simple language doesnt confuse you .. i strongly recomend this book to someone who wnats to know about mayan civilation
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on 7 February 2011
Wow! I enjoyed Alastair's debut novel "All in the mind" but Maya was just fantastic. I couldn't put the book down. Maya has many twists, turns and unexpected events and had my heart beating so fast in places I wanted to scream! This author has a real skill, not only in inventing such credible storylines but for writing in an easy, comfortable way that grips the reader no end. I was supposed to be recovering with rest after an operation, however, over the few days in which I read it, I didn't sleep much (learning from the storyline - must be careful what I say here, don't want the paparazzi to get hold of the fact that a dowdy housewife has been up all night with Alastair Campbell!). Can't wait for Alastair's next novel, well done, what a clever man.
Finally, to all those readers who have given this book a one, two or three star grading - I can't wait for your next novel either!!
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on 11 May 2010
This book took me by complete surprise. Few writers know the frenzied world of 24-hour news better than Campbell and his book sheds harsh light on our unhealthy celebrity culture and the obsessive interest in people's personal lives that it encourages.
The story revolves around an ordinary slightly boring logistics operative whose unlikely friendship with a major global celebrity dates back to their school days. As the plot develops, we see this dull and colourless man - through deceit, obsession and ultimately betrayal - become the master of his own well-deserved destruction.
This is a page-turning suspense filled thriller that slowly dragged me into its twisted sinister plot and left me reeling and wanting more.
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on 4 October 2010
This work provides an excellent overview of the growth of Mayan civilization to its decline.Full consideration is given to the precursors of the Maya: The Olmecs and the culture based on Teotihuacan. There are detailed descriptions of many Mayan sites, not just the best known, and advice on which sites should be included in a visit by the keen amateur. Separate chapters are devoted to the Mayan calendars and Mayan writing. In the concluding section the author focusses on the fate of the Maya in the 20th and 21st centuries. The text is fully supported by photos, sketches and diagrams. I found this volume to be very well worth its cost.
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on 17 July 2012
With a holiday to Mexico to look forward to I thought it would be a good idea to learn a little something about the local history whilst soaking up the sun but this book is not a casual read for the beach. It is well written with lots of detailed information but to appreciate it fully I think you either have to be heavily into cultural history in general or have a specific interest in the Maya. I have no regrets about the purchase and will keep the book to read again when I can't afford a holiday.
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VINE VOICEon 5 April 2010
I had few expectations for this novel when I started it, but the pace of the writing and the sheer momentum of its story telling won me over: Campbell knows how to tell a tale and retain the attention of his readers. The dangers of becoming a celebrity are well portrayed: the relentless pursuit by press photographers, the door-stepping of their friends and families, media manipulation, the manufacture of rumours in tabloids, and frequent invasions of their privacy.

However, the impression which remains is that the book is not about Maya, it is about Steve and his fatal obsession with her, and the build-up of grievous errors of judgements he makes in his efforts to protect her. In his portrayal of Steve, Campbell creates a fascinating and deeply flawed personality with whom one rapidly loses sympathy. And in doing so, the author has turned the two women in Steve's life into less than credible individuals. His wife, Vanessa, whose pregnancy test opens the novel, is simply too good to be true - would an attractive, and highly capable woman tolerate the way her husband fawns after Maya like a star-struck teenager? And would Maya, a woman whom we are told is very grounded in real life and has not been affected by the blandishments and flatteries of celebrity really have taken up with a truly awful person like chat show Dave?

Therein lies the basic weakness of the novel. The author has provided a morality tale, not about the perils of celebrity as such, but about the ways it can affect ordinary people who develop an unhealthy obsession instead of getting on with their lives. It provides a good measure of satisfaction to the reader who follows the relentless sequence of events that unfold as Steve makes one foolish error after another, regardless of consequences to others. But in doing so, Campbell has turned several of the characters affected by Steve's action into figures that at times verge on the stereotype, and thus not wholly credible.

To conclude, a moral story with an unambiguous message, entertaining and a good read, but marred by some unlikely characterisation. I debated between two and three stars, and it was those considerations that led to three stars.
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on 7 June 2015
Okay. It is compulsive reading, but I found it incredibly frustrating. You need to get to the end to find out what happens but when you do it is entirely disappointing. Steve is the most self deluded character I have ever encountered in a book. Is he supposed to be? Is it ironic that in writing Maya he reveals all the secrets that will destroy Maya, and her reputation, rather than redeem himself? Is that the whole point and Alastair Campbell is in fact being completely ingenious rather than writing a novel you can read at face value? Is it allegory? Am I giving too much credit just because I am completely intrigued by alastair Campbell and am curious about what goes on in his head? It is either a novel to be studied, debated and analysed or to read and dismiss as not that good and rather frustrating. I do not know which.....
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