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Striking the right balance
on 10 October 2009
Working on the recommendations on an Amazon list, I bought this to take along on a trip to Andalucia last week. It's a weighty tome that, following some basic travel information about the area, is divided into four sections dealing with geographical regions centred on Malaga, Seville, Cordoba and Granada. There's also some helpful background, including a comprehensive history of Spain, a description of flamenco, and a survey of books about several aspects of the country which looks complete (at least, I couldn't think of anything that had been missed) and is healthily opinionated.
In a book like this, it can be difficult to get the amount of information right - too little, and the reader remains lost, too much, and they're overwhelmed. Besides the introductory and background material, I read the sections for the towns we were visiting (Mijas, Ronda, Seville, Cordoba and Granada) and thought that the balance the authors had struck was exactly right. There are helpful overviews that emphasise the sights and buildings that mustn't be missed, along with pointers to sections that allow the reader to drill down, providing just the right amount of extra information about the history, layout and importance of what they're looking at. I paid less attention to the sections on accomodation and restaurants, but the parts I looked at appeared to be complete and accurate. This didn't leave my side for the whole of our visit, and I'd strongly recommend it to anyone touring this region.