Between 1839 and 1841 John Lloyd Stephens made two long and arduous trips through Central America in search of lost Mayan cities. What followed were two huge books (respectively 900 and 700 pages long), both best-sellers in their day. Even now Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan and Incidents of Travel in Yucatan are a splendid introduction to the Mayan world, since except for a few of the most famous sites, the ruins they describe remain as remote and untouched as they were 150 years ago. I have never been to Chinese Turkestan or to Egypt, worse luck, but from my own experience (far less extensive than his) I can testify that Stephens has got Central America and its lost cities dead right, in all their complexity, discomfort and absolute fascination. He claims to have explored no less than forty-four sites, many for the first time.