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Belize: Reefs, Rain Forests, and Mayan Ruins Paperback – July, 2005
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About the Author
Dick Lutz is the author of several books about unusual places and animals in nature, including The Running Indians (out-of-print); Komodo, The Living Dragon; Hidden Amazon; and Patagonia, At the Bottom of the World.
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This book is 147 pages, excluding the bibliography and index. The pages are large type with very large margins, so there's not a whole lot of "book" here.
The authors direct experience with Belize is on a 10 day guided tour with everything, including all meals, provided. The first 62 pages of the book describe that tour.
Even though "Reefs" is part of the book's title, there is only a 6 page chapter on Reefs. The only caye listed is Ambergris Caye, a stop on the tour. The author mentions Hol Chan Marine Reserve because they went snorkeling there. The remainder of the Reef chapter describes coral reefs in general.
The "Rain Forest" chapter is 8 pages. He talks about rain forest in general and list some of the fauna and flora that can be seen in Belize. Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary (a tour stop) is the only location listed by name.
The author's interest is obviously history and those chapters are the only redeeming aspect of this book. "The History of the Mayans" is 18 pages, "History of Tourism" is 2 pages, "History of Belize" is 24 pages. The author concludes with a 25 pages "Belize Today" chapter.
The book is simplistically written, at times it reads like a high school term paper. The original photos may have been fine, but the reproductions in this book are ghastly. Black and white printed on poor quality paper produces photos about as bad as anything I've ever seen in a book. Most of the photos of Mayan ruins are literally a black silhouette against a white sky.
If you're interested in just reading about Belize, primarily it's history, this book is probably fine. If you're planning to actually GO to Belize then don't waste your money on this book. Other guidebooks - Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and Moon are the ones I'm familiar with - are what you want. In addition to the information a traveler needs to know they also include the same Mayan history and general Belize history as "Belize: Reefs, Rain Forests, and Mayan Ruins".
He spares no detail, and writes with his usual clarity and insight. Should be on every adventurer's bookshelf, and should also be given as a gift to friends.