Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan

by John Lloyd Stephens. Smithsonian, $33.00/$11.95. Stephens’s account of his travels, illustrated by Frederick Catherwood, was a bestseller in 1841 and remains one of the world’s great travel books. It can also be considered the foundation of Mayan archaeology. This version, abridged by Karl Ackerman, is intended in part to direct modern travelers to Mayan sites, but it remains a superb narrative and a highly intelligent interpretation of what was, to Stephens, a wholly unknown civilization.