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HOW TO SEE THE WORLD
Art of Travel - European and World Backpacking

 

Samuel Johnson
Guatemala Reading List

Books of travels will be good in proportion to what a man has previously in his mind; his knowing what to observe; his power of contrasting one mode of life with another. As the Spanish proverb says, 'He, who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.' So it is in travelling; a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge. Samuel Johnson, England

 

Asturias, Miguel Angel. Men of Maize. London and New York: Verso, 1988. The Guatemalan literature Nobel Prize winner writes about the mixture of life and mythology among the Maya of Guatemala.


Burges-Debray, Elisabeth. I, Rigoberta Menchý: An Indian Woman in Guatemala. London and New York: Verso, 1984. The tragic yet inspiring lifestory of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner as told to a Venezuelan journalist. While the book has been found to contain many discrepancies, including important details of her life and Chapter 24, "The torture and death of her little brother, burnt alive in front of members of his family and the community" (which didn't happen), it does reveal a powerful, collective, indigenous truth.


Paz, Octavio. The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico. New York: Viking Penguin, 1985, c1961. Brilliant exposition on the Latin American psyche by the Nobel prize winner.


Schlesinger, Stephen, and Kinzer, Stephen. Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1982. State Department and CIA arrogance and stupidity in 1954 breed a half-century of disaster.


Stephens, John Lloyd. Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993, c1843. This is a beautiful photo- and drawing-filled, superbly edited (by Karl Ackerman, 270 pp.) edition of the classic travel book by America's first major travel writer. Stephens discovered many Mayan ruins, including CopŠn, which he bought for $50.


Tedlock, Dennis, trans. Popol Vuh. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985. The fascinating Mayan creation myth.


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