Author: George Stuart
Publisher: National Geographic
I've always been intrigued by the ancient cultures of South America, and I occasionally fantasize about being an archaeologist, so finding The Mysterious Maya at the local library sale was a special treat.
The first half of the book was excellent, explaining the history of the Maya people and their culture (including a great story about a Spaniard marrying a Maya woman and then leading the Maya revolt against the Spanish himself), as well as discussing excavation sites and discoveries by modern archaeologists.
The second half of the book veered more into the current state of affairs regarding the modern Maya, descendants of the ancient peoples. I have no problem with that, but the author also took a rather melodramatic excursion through his own journey to understanding the Maya culture. He carried it so far as to have his own children 'christened', for lack of a better term, with ceremonies preserved by the Maya people from ancient times, and to participating in ceremonial offerings to the Maya rain god in times of drought.
All of this, while not particularly surprising to me, was still a bit over-the-top for my tastes. As a history and archaeology book, though, The Mysterious Maya was unquestionably informative and educational, and wouldn't be a bad addition to a person's history library.