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on July 13, 2004
I spent a week in Buenos Aires and brought this book with me with the hope that it would introduce me to the uniqueness of this contradictory and culturally rich city - it did not. I have not read a more disjointed, dysfunctional guide than this one.
Jason Wilson uses the word 'Babylonic' to describe Buenos Aires, and in a Freudian way, that very word describes how this book reads. Wilson uses the words of endless other writers to express (evidently he cannot) the soul of this city. All the multitude of quotes muddles your mind and the book ends up sounding like babble.
Quote after quote assails you from writers you will be sorely pressed to recognize. This book could, maybe, work best in an Argentinian Literature course where the readers would have a pejorative understanding of the writers quoted. BUT, it is not, in any way, suitable for the average, or even above average, traveler in Buenos Aires. If you want an understanding of Argentina's Culture, then you should consider 'Culture Shock! Argentina' (however it too could be seriously improved, see my review). Not Recommended
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on February 26, 2003
This is not a "travel book" in the usual sense -- you will not, for instance, find anything about where to stay or eat. Rather, this is an historical, cultural, and literary guide to Buenos Aires that will make your time there more interesting and worthwhile.
Progressing geographically through the city's most important streets, plazas, and neighborhoods, Wilson uses the observations of writers, artists, foreign visitors, politicians, academics, and others to give the reader a "feel" for both the city and its inhabitants. These observations are supplemented with just enough historical framework to provide context. Buenos Aires is a city filled with buildings, streets, and monuments that stir up a great deal of emotion in its inhabitants; what this book does is help to explain why these locations are so important and how they fit together -- geographically, historically, psychologically -- to make up the city.
This book was along with me during my recent trip to Buenos Aires and undoubtedly made my time there more satisfying. Its only real deficiency is a lack of good maps -- there is one, but it is very general and doesn't cover enough territory. Nonetheless, I would strongly recommend this book to anyone traveling to Buenos Aires.
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on August 19, 2003
I loved Mexico City by Nick Caistor in this series but this was a HUGE disappointment. There is way way too much name dropping and quoting of other sources rather than getting the author's actual feel of the city of Buenos Aires as it is today. I understand this series is subtitled as "a cultural and literary companion" but I'd have preferred way more emphasis on the culture as it stands now and less of the literary references. It was like reading Footnotes 101.
Stick with Miranda France's Bad Times in Buenos Aires.
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