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March 10 , 2010

Guatemalan Journey


Guatemala draws some half million tourists each year, whose brief visits to the ruins of ancient Maya cities and contemporary highland Maya villages may give them only a partial and folkloric understanding of Guatemalan society. In this vividly written travel narrative, Stephen Connely Benz explores the Guatemala that casual travelers miss, using his encounters with ordinary Guatemalans at the mall, on the streets, at soccer games, and even at the funeral of massacre victims to illuminate the social reality of Guatemala today.The book opens with an extended section on the capital, Guatemala City, and then moves out to the more remote parts of the country where the Guatemalan Indians predominate. Benz offers us a series of intelligent and sometimes humorous perspectives on Guatemala's political history and the role of the military, the country's environmental degradation, the influence of foreign missionaries, and especially the impact of the United States on Guatemala, from governmental programs to fast food franchises.

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