Cover image for Return of the Maya : Guatemala - a tale of survival
Return of the Maya : Guatemala - a tale of survival
Höpker, Thomas.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, [1998]

Physical Description:
xi, 144 pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library F1435.3.S68 H64 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

On Order



After 500 years of colonial suppression and a brutal civil war, the Maya Indians in Guatemala finally have a chance to live in peace. Latin America's longest civil war ended on December 29, 1996, with a peace accord between the conservative government of President Arzu and the Marxist guerrilla group URNG. According to official estimates, 150,000 people were killed in the thirty-six-year war, and another 50,000 are still missing. Most of the victims were Maya Indians who were brutally oppressed by both sides of the conflict.Now the Maya are searching the killing fields for their dead, rediscovering their own grandiose culture and history. They are finally free to practice their ancient religion at remote altars on mountaintops, in caves, ravines or near waterfalls, and to begin to heal their souls. Magnum photographer Thomas Hoepker visited Guatemala three times in 1997. He has captured many aspects of this remarkable period of transition in an array of astonishing, full-color shoots that will disturb, enchant, and ultimately instruct.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

The resilience, hopeful determination, and beauty of present-day Maya in Guatemala are dramatically presented in this collection of color photographs, taken by Hoepker between 1990 and 1997. The power of good photography is, obviously, in its visual impact, and Hoepker's shots are very potent, indeed. Brief, very moving and well-written narrative provides historical background and contemporary context. With the end of a 36-year-old civil war and successes in deciphering ancient Mayan hieroglyphs (a literary culture older than the Spanish), and after 500 years of religious and cultural persecution, the Maya are finally able to reconnect with their ancestral heritage. They can now openly practice their ancient religious rites, officially use their indigenous language, locate the bodies of the dead, and honor the sacrifice of those whose lives were lost. These stunning images expose the horrors of violent oppression and capture the amazing endurance and spiritual strength of the Maya. --Grace Fill

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