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Not as good as the first edition
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!)