I have only been in five of the fourteen countries covered in this handbook, but of those I have travel through, I found this all-in-one guide to be succinct, reliable and valuable. That said, it does not replace the comprehensiveness of a specific country guide. Basically, this handbook is a digested compilation of the specific country handbooks that Footprint produces. Thus, if you are only visiting one or two countries, buy those handbooks. If you are going to explore South America and want only one guide, this guide will be valuable.
Each country section is condensed, comprehensive and reliable. Though smaller towns will be omitted, the most important cities, towns and sites will be covered. Each country has been segmented into regions, as noted by the country's map, and within each region Footprint covers the top two, three or four cities or towns in a region. Basic travel information is given at the beginning of each country.
As with all Footprint Handbooks this guide has excellent color maps. In the back of the guide you will find ... exceptional color maps of South America. Also, throughout the book, I found the b&w maps of regions and cities to be very good.
Another impressive aspect of this guide is found at the beginning, in the 'Essentials' section, where there is a very good discussion of bringing and using a car/SUV throughout South America. This section also includes information on motorcycling and a section on cycling throughout South America.
Though each country section does have a 'futher reading & useful websites' section, this is very basic. The section on health/vaccination is bare bone basic.
On the "downside" I often found that the brevity of the restaurant and lodging remarks were so terse (or no remarks at all) that they were not helpful, i.e.,. Hotel Barros Arana (Chile):modern, or a restaurant remark: good not cheap, or a hostel: helpful. Also I find the intrusive paid advertisements for hotels, tour companies, hostels, calling cards and travel
services throughout the book (a half-page, a full-page, a quarter page) offensive. The purchase ... should be more than enough to make a profit, but Footprint chooses to afflict its readers with uninvited advertising to increase its profits.
For those using glasses, the small type that the publishers uses will cause you to strain to read in low or poorly lighted areas. Also, the pricing for accommodations is a cumbersome rating system that could be simplified. It is not user friendly. There is no pricing guide for restaurants.
That said, this is an adequate, to good, guide for those who are going to visit a multitude of countries while in South America. The information is current and reliable. Especially recommended for those that plan to motor through South America. Recommended