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SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

Tropical Islands, Rain Forests & Ancient Sites of Central America

READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE

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Enrich your travels with reading! Here's a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Essential Reading

Item EXCAM166. Buy these 4 items as a set for $70 including shipping, 15% off the retail price.
With free shipping on anything else you order.

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Maya Art and Architecture

Maya Art and Architecture

by Mary Ellen Miller

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

An illustrated overview of the art and architecture of the Maya, making use of the latest discoveries at Tikal, Copan and Palenque to demonstrate the range of Mayan artistic influence. (MYA20, $20.95)

Tropical Nature

Tropical Nature

by Adrian Forsyth | Ken Miyata

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 1984
  • PAPER
  • 248 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists offer a lucid portrait of the tropics through 17 marvelous essays that introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforests. (GPS13, $16.00)

Insight Guide Guatemala, Belize & the Yucatan

Insight Guide Guatemala, Belize & the Yucatan

by Insight Guides

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 380 PAGES

This handsome guide gives a profusely illustrated overview of Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula, featuring concise essays by well regarded authors on natural history, politics and culture. (CAM113, $24.99)

Central America Map

Central America Map

by ITMB

  • 2012
  • MAP

A detailed map of the Central American isthmus at a scale of 1:1,100,000. (CAM20, $12.95)

 
Culture Smart! Guatemala

Culture Smart! Guatemala


by Lisa Vaughn

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 168 PAGES

A concise and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture. (CAM119, $9.95)

A Brief History of Central America

A Brief History of Central America


by Hector Perez-Brignoll

  • HISTORY
  • 1989
  • PAPER
  • 223 PAGES

A good overview of the region's economic, political and social history through the 1980s by a professor at the University of Costa Rica. Well-written, informative and concise. (CAM49, $29.95)

A Forest of Kings, The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya

A Forest of Kings, The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya


by Linda Schele | David Freidel

  • HISTORY
  • 1992
  • PAPER
  • 542 PAGES

The history of the Maya, as it was recorded in the previously undecipherable hieroglyphs of the Maya. This excellent account traces the kingships and politics of the Maya, and features narratives recreating scenes of burials, blood sacrifices, battles and other events. (MYA22, $26.99)

The Art of Mesoamerica, from Olmec to Aztec

The Art of Mesoamerica, from Olmec to Aztec


by Mary Ellen Miller

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES

An excellent survey of Mesoamerican art and architecture from 1500 BC to the Spanish conquest. Compact and profusely illustrated, it includes drawings, photographs and site plans. (MYA09, $24.95)

The Copan Sculpture Museum, Ancient Maya Artistry in Stucco and Stone

The Copan Sculpture Museum, Ancient Maya Artistry in Stucco and Stone


by Barbara W. Fash

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 207 PAGES

Director of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions Program & Mesoamerican Laboratory at the Peabody Museum, Fash brings insight and an on-the-ground perceptive to this illustrated overview of Copan, both a museum catalog and an introduction to the Maya. (MYA81, $35.00)

The Maya

The Maya


by Michael Coe

  • ARCHAEOLOGY
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 280 PAGES

Coe's clear, concise, illustrated survey of the Maya highlights the chronology, accomplishments and legacy of the Maya. (MYA10, $26.95)

Guatemalan Journey

Guatemalan Journey


by Stephen Connely Benz

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 1996
  • PAPER
  • 212 PAGES

Opening with a long chapter on life in Guatemala City, Benz's memoir moves on to the remote highlands and other little-visited regions. An excellent account of Guatemala's political history, traditions, and indigenous cultures. (GML03, $25.00)

How to Cook a Tapir

How to Cook a Tapir


by Joan Fry

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 296 PAGES

The coming-of-age memoir by Joan Fry, a young newlywed, who moves with her anthropologist husband to the jungles of Belize. Her introspective account is interwoven with stories, portraits of locals and traditional recipes. (BLZ22, $16.95)

Life in the Treetops, Adventures of a Woman in Field Biology

Life in the Treetops, Adventures of a Woman in Field Biology


by Margaret Lowman

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2000
  • PAPER
  • 219 PAGES

The sprightly memoir of an ecologist who climbs, studies and sleeps in trees for a living, balancing multiple roles of scientist, wife and mom. Margaret Lowman, a pioneer in the ecology of forest tree canopies, continues her story in a second memoir (written with her now-grown sons). (AMZ57, $13.95)

Popol Vuh, The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life

Popol Vuh, The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life


by Dennis Tedlock

  • LITERATURE
  • 1996
  • PAPER
  • 388 PAGES

The definitive, unabridged collection of creation myths and stories of the Quiche people, fundamental to understanding the worldview of the highland Maya. (MYA14, $16.99)

The Mosquito Coast

The Mosquito Coast


by Paul Theroux

  • LITERATURE
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 384 PAGES

This taut psychological novel about a man who abandons civilization for the wilds of Honduras is both an adventure story and a dark utopian tale of colonial ambitions run amok. (CAM34, $15.95)

Travelers' Tales Central America

Travelers' Tales Central America


by Larry Habegger | Natanya Pearlman

  • ANTHOLOGY
  • 2001
  • PAPER
  • 277 PAGES

Organized thematically with contributions set in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, this collection of eyewitness reports includes Joan Didion, P.J. O'Rourke and Paul Theroux. (CAM96, $17.95)

The Monkey's Bridge, Mysteries of Evolution in Central America

The Monkey's Bridge, Mysteries of Evolution in Central America


by David Rains Wallace

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 280 PAGES

Opening this absorbing account of the history and biogeography of the Central American isthmus with the tale of Columbus, Wallace often weaves his own travels in the region with a crisp overview of exploration, nature and evolution. Natural history buffs and ecologically minded travelers will appreciate this valuable resource. (CAM56, $18.95)

Birds of Belize

Birds of Belize


by H. Lee Jones | Dana Gardner

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 317 PAGES

A complete guide to the birds of Belize, 573 species in all, featuring 56 color plates and 234 range maps. (BLZ16, $34.95)

Fishwatcher's Field Guide Caribbean

Fishwatcher's Field Guide Caribbean


by Idaz Greenberg

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • PLASTIC CARD

A convenient double-sided plastic card showing 75 reef fish of the Caribbean. (DIV11, $7.50)

Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life

Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life


by Paul Humann

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 1995
  • PAPER
  • 80 PAGES

Humann's compact guide illustrates Caribbean fishes, corals, invertebrates and plants commonly encountered in shallower water. (DIV02, $14.95)

More Recommendations

Here are some other groups of books that might be of interest

Longitude provides recommended reading for travelers in partnership with the leading tour operators and travel programs for hundreds of destinations worldwide. We've got the classic, new and hard-to-find books and maps to help you get the most out of your adventures.