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Guatemalan Journey Paperback – January 1, 1996


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Guatemalan Journey + Time Among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; First Edition edition (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292708408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292708402
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,322,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Most books on Guatemala concentrate on either the country's nightmarish political situation or its mysterious Maya past, making it difficult for readers to get any clear idea of contemporary daily life. Fulbright scholar Benz spent two years doing such ordinary, day-by-day things as shopping for food, buying a motor scooter and standing in the same administrative lines as ordinary Guatemalans. With his family in tow, he traveled to some of the most remote and unstable parts of the country, watched, listened, and came back with stories a more hard-driven reporter would probably never have taken the time to hear. Benz doesn't flinch from the fact that this is a country where, during massacres of peasants, the opening of a shopping mall hogs the news coverage. He grapples with the hot issues of the influx of foreign missionaries, mass killings and a strangling bureaucracy with the refreshing attitude that he is not an expert but an observer. Unfortunately, the book comes to a rather abrupt end, leaving readers searching for a missing chapter and eager for this astute observer's conclusions about his journey.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Benz brings the reader face to face with the landscape, the people, and the institutions of Guatemala. I am convinced that his book will appeal to a general audience, to students entering the field of Latin American studies, and even to people planning a trip to that country. His insights into and observations of Guatemalan society are invariably accurate and engaging. (Pablo Medina, author of Exiled Memories: A Cuban Childhood)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert Stoll on June 9, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For someone who was looking for a good starting point in learing about and understanding the history and culture of Guatemala, I found this book to be an excellent read. The author's journal about his travels throughout Guatemala gave this reader a good understanding of how Guatemala, despite its small size, holds several very distincitive cultures, customs and attitiudes. The book primarily focuses on the various cultures and treatment of indigenous Indian populations throughout Guatemala, which is important in understanding why things are the way they are in the country. There is little focus on middle-class life.
While the author sometimes lapses into extended periods of criticizing travelers who visit the country (even if it well deserved) I think the book does a very good job of opening the reader up to Guatemalan culture and provides several other reading ideas for those looking to dig deeper into the country.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By SueRochester on September 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
After having the opportunity to live in Guatemala, and experience the culture, I read 'Guatemalan Journey'. I found it to be an accurate description of life in Guatemala.
It was well written and interesting. It was amazing how the author captured so many realities of daily life so precisely. He was able to 'bring words to life'.
If you would like to learn more about Guatemala, the complex culture, the wonderful people, the beautiful country, and the pain they have suffered, and still do in some respects, this is a must read.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
For travellers to Guatemala who wish to understand the country more deeply but are unable to do so due to the briefness of their visits (unfortunately, this includes most visitors), this is the perfect book to read. Benz weaves an entertaining travelogue while frequently offering informative historical detail and penetrating insights into Guatemalan life, customs, law, and current trends and problems. He makes many perceptive, sometimes startling and unsettling, observations on this troubled but perennially fascinating country. Easily worth double the publisher's price, this book should be read by anyone planning to visit the country. More than a Guatemalan journey, it is a thought-provoking journey INTO Guatemala.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By John H. Kelly on August 5, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Benz' observant eye catches just right the sad and funny contradictions of Guatemala. He writes so clearly and informally that the poignancy of his observations catches you by surprise. The book is an easy read (in quickly-digested themes such as "The City Dump" and "Ladino Attitudes"). Anyone who has lived or traveled in Latin America will, with a groan or a chuckle, recognize Benz' personal anecdotes as typifying the ethos of the place, and learn something new about its history. Best of all, Benz understands he will always just be a gringo, a stranger, no matter how acute his commentary.
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