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3.8 out of 5 stars
9
Libya (Lonely Planet Country Guides)
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on 1 November 2017
Great item
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on 15 September 2007
The first edition was rather better. It was better laid out and easier to read. The typeface in the new edition is smaller, the maps are smaller, and my subjective impression is that material on the main sites, Leptis and Sabratha, is less extensive than it was. Frankly it should be rather more extensive! Otherwise it is reasonably up to the standard of most such guides, although I concur with the reviewer who said that it's erroneous in parts.

My first impression was that the author had been 'got at' by the Libyan authorities. I particularly noticed the omission of comments about hotels that would throw you out of your room unless you agreed to buy their foul-tasting evening meals have gone, for instance; or mention of sleepy officials refusing to leave Tripoli and go to Sirt. But after rereading the book, it seemed to me that the cheaper hotels were simply not included any longer, and that the material had changed, rather than degraded.

That said, the volume is still full of useful information, albeit banished to the back! I felt that the organisation of this edition is inferior to the last. What I want to know is whether my mobile phone will work and whether the water is drinkable? I would prefer more meat earlier. Don't we all want to see first how we get there and get around? We'll tolerate a certain amount on "history of this place" but the opening stuff goes on a bit beyond this, I think.

The practical information has been updated, and reflects the situation at present (since my own last visit in 2006). The author rightly criticises the demand for double camera fees if you want to see the amphitheatre at Leptis as well as the main site. (That said, these fees are so small that it really does not matter, and, yes, you really do want to use a video camera at the spectacular amphitheatre).

Libya is somewhere you need to go. It's unspoiled, and will remain so while Gadaffi remains in power. At the same time it is nice, calm, unrushed and with wonderful ancient sites to see. Even if like me you can't face the slightest hint of discomfort, there is one brand-new hotel in Tripoli -- the Corinthia -- which will meet the most exacting standards, so don't let that put you off! You will want a guidebook, and it will have to be this one (I've never seen another for sale!)
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on 25 September 2010
The second edition of Lonely Planet's guide to Libya (written by Anthony Ham) was published in 2007. I have compared it to the first edition from 2002, which I used during a trip to Libya in 2004. I found some flaws in the book, and I wrote to Lonely Planet to tell them about them. You can see some of the points which I raised in my letter, if you check my review of the first edition posted here on Amazon: Libya Lonely Planet.

The text has been revised and updated. Some sections are shorter than before; and some sections have been moved around. The page numbers are not the same as before. When I checked the second edition, I found that all the passages which I had mentioned in my letter to the publisher had been rewritten, so the mistakes and the unfortunate statements had disappeared. In this case the people of Lonely Planet decided to listen to the feedback from a reader, which is a good thing.

However, this does not mean that there are no mistakes in the second edition. Let me give you some examples:

* The caption to the picture on page 7 says: "Be mesmerised by the Mediterranean vistas from the theatre of Leptis Magna." But this picture does not show the theatre; it shows the amphitheatre in Leptis Magna. Perhaps this mistake should be blamed on the picture editor and not the author. I am quite sure Anthony Ham knows the difference between a theatre and an amphitheatre.

* On page 84 we hear about the ancient temple next to the arch of Marcus Aurelius. Ham claims it was dedicated to "Taki (the Roman god of fortune)." But the Roman god of Fortune is known as Fortuna. Where does the word "Taki" come from? I think I know what happened. The Greek god of fortune is known as TYCHE, sometimes spelled TYKE. I suspect someone told Ham the Greek name, but when he wrote it down, he made a mistake, and the word was changed into "Taki."

* On pp. 122-123 we hear about the Italian arch in Medinat Sultan. Ham describes it as a "more-than-5-m-tall Italian-built arch." It was indeed more than five meters high, it was 31 meters high. Why not give the correct figure?

* He also mentions the reliefs from the arch, which are now scattered on the ground, saying: "These once adorned the façade of the arch." In fact, they were placed on the inside of the arch.

* One fragment is described with these words: "The closest one to the gate shows Mussolini (second from the left) being saluted by his soldiers." In fact, Mussolini is on the right side of this fragment. The figure second from the left is the Italian king Vittorio Emanuele III. Mussolini is not being saluted by his soldiers; he is saluting the king.

* On page 136-137 we hear about the ancient church of Qasr Libya with the famous mosaics. Ham mentions panel # 18 saying the panel shows the nymph "Kastelia of Delphi." In fact the Greek letters in the panel read "KASTALIA." Most English writers would probably prefer the spelling "Castalia."

* Ham also mentions panel # 3 saying it shows "the New City of Theodarius." In fact the Greek letters in the panel read "POLIS NEA THEODORIAS," i.e. "the New City of Theodorias." It seems Ham is a bit confused about the spelling of the name.

* The town formerly known as Olbia was re-founded (and renamed) in AD 539, but this is not mentioned here. Ham mentions the Roman emperor Justinian, also known as Justinian the Great, but he does not mention that the new town was named after the empress Theodora.

For more information about Theodora, see The Empress Theodora: Partner of Justinian and The Power Game in Byzantium.

* Cyrene is presented on pp. 141-147. But the famous philosopher Synesius, who was born in this city around AD 370, is not mentioned in this section. From ca. 410 to his death in ca. 413, Synesius worked as a bishop in Ptolemais (today Tolmeita) which is presented on pp. 134-136. But he is not mentioned in this section, either.

For more information about Synesius see J. C. Nicols: Synesius of Cyrene: His Life and Writings.

* On page 198 there is a silly misprint which was not found in the first edition. Ham mentions the German explorer Heinrich Barth and continues: "On 6 July 185, Barth wrote..." In the year 185! No! Barth lived 1821-65 and travelled in Africa 1850-55. In the first edition the same passage appears on page 235, and here the correct year (1850) is given. This silly misprint seems to be the result of sloppy editing.

The second edition is, in many ways, a good book, but as you can see, there are mistakes and unfortunate omissions here and there.

I have written to Lonely Planet to tell them about these flaws. I hope they will not be found in the next edition.

PS. Here is an update with two useful references. They are not mentioned in the second edition of Lonely Planet's guidebook because they are both published after 2007:

(1) If you are going to visit the western part of Libya, known as Tripolitania, you should consult Philip Kenrick, Tripolitania (Libya Archaeological Guides) (2009).

(2) If you are going to visit the eastern part of Libya, known as Cyrenaica, you should consult Philip Kenrick, Cyrenaica (Libya Archaeological Guides) (2013).
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on 28 December 2009
There's definitely a hierarchy in LP guides. When they're good, you can't beat them but this unfortunately is not one of their better guides. Considering the wealth of sites worth seeing in Libya, it's quite thin on the ground and in a country where street and road maps are almost non existent I was surprised satellite coordinates weren't given for sites and locations of road turn offs. I just got the impression that not a lot of time had been spent putting it together. Having said that it's still the best available guide book, and until something better comes along, is worth buying if you're heading to Libya.
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on 11 August 2011
As usual an excellent Lonely Planet guide. It will have to be reviewed since the uprising but I took it on a tour just prior to the recent events and found it to be very accurate and informative.
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on 5 July 2010
As always, Lonely Planet is an excellent choise when it comes to "untravelled" parts of this earth. Not, that there are many publications about Libya, still L.P. is a very good companion for any one travelling to this -up to now introvertive- country.Precise, humane and not at all prejudiced, it is a must for going around. Still, keep in mind that things change too fast, especially in the urban areas of Libya. Many venues reported in the 2008 edition I had, simply did not exist, so you had better look for the most recent edition when you go. This does not apply for rural areas and archaeological sites, where the guide is extremely accurate. Also a map of Tripoly would be welcome if included in the book (you cannot find anywhere such a thing).
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on 20 April 2009
What a shame, Lonely Planet have really missed the point on this guidebook. It is supposed to be factual, so that the reader/traveller can learn about the country, but this is so full of errors! We have just returned from Libya, with our trustly LP book, but wherever we went Guides told us about all the mistakes and historical errors in this book, that it is almost a laughing stock. The story in Libya is the Guidebook author spent 13 days in Libya writing this book.... bit of a joke for such a huge country, although I cannot comment if this is true or not. On this occasion, I would stick with the Footprint Guide! Sorry LP, should try harder for the Libya guide book!!!
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on 19 November 2013
This book is a bit out of date. But its a useful guide foy sightseeing as the historical sites dont change. Ive used it for tripoltania and a visit to ghaddames. Im going to use it for exploring cyrenia now. The green Mountains tobruck etc.
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on 22 November 2015
Excellent
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