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Time Among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico Paperback – September 30, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Grove Press ed edition (September 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802137288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802137289
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While the cultures of the ancient Mayas, Incas and Aztecs are elevated to the status of national icon in Latin America, their modern descendants--barefoot, uneducated, potentially rebellious peasants--are viewed by the Ladino majority (of mixed European ancestry) as obstacles to progress, a source of embarrassment. Traveling on foot, by bush plane, boat and train, Wright explored the home of the ancient and contemporary Mayas. He portrays a people who are shattered but unbroken in spirit. This impressionistic travel diary starts in Belize City, "a cloacal, clapboard Venice," then moves to Guatemala, "a country where things are easily hidden, especially the truth" and where a symbiosis of U.S. business interests with the ruling Ladino elite holds down the Indian majority and squelches grass-roots change, according to the author. In the Mexican Yucatan, he ponders a Mesoamerican civilization perpetually aware of its own fragility. A likable companion who shares his breakfast with ocelots and visits remote ruins, Wright ( Cut Stones and Crossroads ) fuses adventure, politics, archeology and history in a riveting read.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Wright takes us along to ancient and modern sites inhabited by Mayan Indians in Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico and concludes that the Maya are not facing extinction from the onslaught of "civilization" into their areas, but, on the contrary are surviving as they always have, by grafting new ways onto an ancient base. Spanish conquistadors found cities in America which far surpassed anything in Europe--with tall buildings and an accurate calendar. While the book offers a fine overview of Mayan civilization, it is not for the faint-hearted: It is quite scholarly. Readers interested in the calendar and the Mayan time reference will find this book valuable. For large and special collections.
- Louise Leonard, Univ. of Florida Lib., Gainesville
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stephen McHenry on October 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
A travel book, with culture and policitcs woven in, but not too heavily. Geography, environment, and a collection of characters encountered along the way, a fascinating book on several levels. Also in the fabric of the book is a discussion of how the Mayans keep time, what happened to them as a culture and people, as well as what their future might be. But is it all done with excellent writing, none of it too academic or dry, all interesting, with great writing artistry. A very good book. Simple and powerful. A good read if you have any interest in this area of the world or the Mayans.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on June 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
At first this book appears to be merely a travelogue of Wright's journeys through the Maya areas of Mexico and Central America. Sure, he gives us the goods on the ancient Maya ruins and archeological treasures, plus a lot of great historical coverage, but these turn out to be the background of a much larger narrative. Instead, Wright spends the bulk of his time visiting with the local people, both modern Mayas and non-Mayas who inhabit these regions today. Therefore we get an excellent sociological study on these peoples. I was surprised to learn of the large numbers of Maya that still exist, not just as an ancient fringe religious group, but as a sizeable portion of the populations of Guatemala, Belize, and Southern Mexico. Unfortunately these people still deal with the fallout of nearly 500 years of oppression, and continuing discrimination today. Their resulting hardships are a major focus of the book. Wright also has a flair for picking out offbeat and enjoyable characters among the people he meets, like the nearly-Rasta mestizos of Belize and a variety of befuddled and naïve traveling companions. Wright could stand to be a little less biased at times, especially in the portion of the book that deals with Guatemala. Wright gets really carried away in describing this dreary nation as a hopeless hellhole. This characterization is probably not too far from reality, but impartiality is missing at times in this book. (Note that this was written back in the mid-80's, though it's doubtful if much has changed since then). Also, pictures of the many fascinating areas Wright visited would be a nice addition to this book. You have to rely on Wright's descriptions instead, although he does a pretty good job. Ultimately, this book is less a standard travelogue than an entertaining and very enlightening sociological study on a people who are still going strong even though their culture "collapsed" (in Western eyes) centuries and centuries ago.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Katherine H. O'neil on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Classic, essential, practical. Don't leave home for Maya lands without it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robin Schmidt on October 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ronald Wright takes us to Belize, Guatemala and the Yucatan, visiting various archeological sites and people along the way. This is a great travelogue with lots of history included. It is well researched including a glossary, notes, bibliography and index for the reader who wants to delve deeper. Good reading if you're planning on going to this part of the world.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Hubert Smith on February 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
Wright has done the modern Maya a service by calling attention to their continued existence.
However, he seems infatuated with antiquity and the signs of its persistence and fails, sometimes in serious ways, to account for the nobility of the modern Maya's grim and successful struggle to survive.
Wright also can't help slipping in "green" comments and digs at multi-nationals, stupid governments (oxymoron), and exploitative ladinos. These targets are too easy. For example, he sloughs off milpa agriculture almost entirely and even comes close to lamenting the "death of the forests" that some misguided types think it causes.
What causes over-farming is over-population and neither I nor Wright will convince the Maya to let infant mortality assert itself again since its virtual demise in the last two decades.
Wright does, however, have a feel for the Maya and that makes his book a worthy contribution. His search for X-Cacal Guardia and the resultant events should lead readers to study Yucatan's Caste War and further consider the Modern Maya's view of themselves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mona Anderson on August 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book to learn a bit more about the Maya before I take a trip to visit ancient Maya sites this fall. The book does present some interesting information on the ancient Maya, particularly, their calendar and system of time. It spends more time discussing the problems faced by the Maya of today, which is enlightening, but I feel it spends too much time discussing politics and what is wrong with the governments in Maya lands today than what I need to prepare for my trip. I do feel that an understanding of the situation is important to have before visiting a third world country; I just find this a bit overburdening in light of what I need and want to know, especially since it reflects the situation in 1985. It does not tell me what to expect TODAY.
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