Michel Peissel, a young cosmopolite vacationing in Mexico in 1958, became interested in the ancient Maya civilization. His youthful enthusiasm led him to plan an exploration of the little known coast of Quintana Roo. By boat, but mostly on foot, equipped with only a disarming naïveté and good luck, he traveled from Puerto Juárez to British Honduras, with side trips to Isla de Mujeres and Cozumel. In a manner reminiscent of Richard Halliburton, Peissel has written an account of the human and natural obstacles which he encountered in his journey. Highlighting the text are his frequent discoveries of Maya ruins, many previously unknown. Only one site (Muyil or Chunyaxche) was, however, given more than a cursory examination and recordation by the author.

The personal narrative style and the romantic Maya subject matter make this a readable and entertaining book in the tradition of those written some thirty years ago by Gregory Mason, T. A. Willard, and E. H. Thompson. Like the earlier books Peissel’s account of his adventures is primarily appealing to the armchair explorer and archaeologist; it is not, in general, a study for the serious student of the Maya. Factual errors, particularly popular misconceptions about the Maya, are unfortunate detractions. No bibliography is included to indicate the author’s sources or to suggest references for interested readers.