Lonely Planet Africa: On a Shoestring (Africa on a Shoestring, 8th ed)
by Hugh Finlay, Geoff Crowther , David Else, Mary Fitzpatrick, Paul Greenway, Andrew Humphreys, Ann Jousiffe, Frances Linzee Gordon, Jon Murray, Miles Roddis, Sarina Singh, Deanna Swaney, Dorinda Talbot, David Willett, Jeff Wi8Lliams
ISBN 0864424817 (0-86442-481-7)
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Africa is so vast that any attempt to cover it in one book is doomed to superficiality. In tacit acceptance of this, Lonely Planet have jazzed up the latest edition of their Africa on a Shoestring guide with a post-modern cover: after all, if you are going to deal with things on a superficial basis, you need to have a sexy front.
The authors have struggled against the straitjacket of this format, and--given the constraints--the historical sections are notably rich. But nevertheless, the task of providing thorough, detailed and up-to-date information on 48 countries in under 1000 pages proves difficult indeed. Although the whole continent is covered, the chapters on war-torn countries are preceded by the information that the authors were unable to do first-hand research, while peaceful countries tend to include only the capital and a few centres. More heavily touristed areas get a slightly fuller picture but, since many visitors to these places do not stray further afield, it is difficult to see how this book could supplant a straightforward country guide. As the only book of its kind dealing with the continent as a whole, Africa On a Shoestring will certainly be of value to those visiting more than one region of Africa, or to those visiting countries that do not appear in any other book (Sao Tomé and Djibouti, for instance). But anyone visiting just one of the regions would be much better off with a regional guide: The Rough Guide to West Africa, and the Footprint East Africa Handbook 2001, being the best choices. --Toby Green
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