Some series of guidebooks give travel writing a bad name, but the Rough Guides isn't one of them. The new Cuba book exemplifies the genre and is a fantastic guide to one of the world's fastest growing tourist destinations. Like its competitors, the book is illustrated with some superb photographs and takes you through everything you need to know. The information is up-to-date--the new private bus service, only 6 months old, is comprehensively explained--and easy to assimilate.
What is most impressive about this book, however, is its scope. The authors seem equally adept at describing Havana's colonial architecture and the artefacts in its museums, the depredations of the sugar industry and the slave trade, the attractions of the sandy expanses of Varadero's beaches, and carnival time at Santiago de Cuba. There are also exhaustive sections on Cuban music--one of the best reasons to visit--Castro, Cuban literature, and the National Parks. The book has been written by people who clearly have a great deal of knowledge and empathy with their subject, rather than by a backpacker chalking up country number 87.
For some years now, visitors have been attracted to Cuba, not least by the possibility of glimpsing a culture which has not been completely subsumed under consumerism. It's hard to imagine a better guidebook for future visitors to have and, as the authors themselves make clear, the time to see this special side of Cuba is now rather than later. --Toby Green