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Time Among the Maya

The Maya created one of the world's most brilliant civilizations, famous for its art, astronomy, and deep fascination with the mystery of time. Despite collapse in the ninth century, Spanish invasion in the sixteenth, and civil war in the twentieth, eight million people in Guatemala, Belize, and southern Mexico speak Mayan languages and maintain their resilient culture to this day. Traveling through Central America's jungles and mountains, Ronald Wright explores the ancient roots of the Maya, their recent troubles, and prospects for survival. Embracing history, anthropology, politics, and literature, Time Among the Maya is a riveting journey through past magnificence and the study of an enduring civilization with much to teach the present. "Wright's unpretentious narrative blends anthropology, archaeology, history, and politics with his own entertaining excursions and encounters." -- The New Yorker; "Time Among the Maya shows Wright to be far more than a mere storyteller or descriptive writer. He is an historical philosopher with a profound understanding of other cultures." -- Jan Morris, The Independent (London).
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This impressionistic travel diary portrays the uneducated but spirited modern descendants of the ancient Mayas, Incas and Aztecs, a potentially volatile peasant group suppressed by the European-descended Ladino majority in Latin America. ``Wright fuses adventure, politics, archeology and history in a riveting read,'' said PW. (Apr.)

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

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