Monday, September 14, 2009

I Dream of Maui…

“Hawai’i: The Big Island”
ISBN No. 978-1-74104-715-8
ISBN No. 978-1-74104-714-1

Both published by

How’s this for counterprogramming? Instead of reviewing those timely tomes about entertaining for the holidays why not think about yourself this year? Why not consider getting away from all of those people the other books want you to entertain?
Yes, I know there are grander beaches out there and more exotic ruins to be seen if you’re willing to fly for a dozen hours or so. But in our freefalling economy a vacation in the most obvious and cheapest tropical destination makes increasingly perfect sense. (For those of you thinking “hey, Mexico is cheaper”, full disclosure: I’m limiting my review to tropical places where your murder will be solved within a year.)
Simply put, these guides to Hawai’i and its little brother, Maui, are paradise in themselves – for readers, armchair travellers and those who actually have time to travel this winter season. Even better, these guides have more colour pictures than before.
Yes, there was a bit of a scandal when it was alleged by a former contributor that LP’s writers – gasp! – might not visit each and every single place they write about. Now, as a former editor of Adbusters let me say that: Yes, making it up is bad and, yes, faking it is morally wrong. But our jails are already full so let’s move on. Because I used LP’s guides to Beijing and Shanghai during a working visit to China and I thought they were spot-on when it came to summing up the sights and quoting the RMB. Hell, even The Temple of Heaven was EXACTLY WHERE THEY SAID IT WOULD BE!!! To which their Hawai’i and Maui guides face a special challenge: writing about that most westernized of tropical paradises in ways that respect the natives and inform the foreigners. Thankfully, their Hawai’i and Maui guides read like they were written by the natives themselves; natives who actually LIKE foreigners. Did the writers visit each and every sight they wrote about in the books? I don’t know. I can’t tell. The results are THAT polished and readable and… man, will you look at those glossy pictures! But they sure make you want to go and see Hawai’i and Maui for yourself.