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This overview of the whole of Central America—the native tradition of tropical Mexico and western Central America—from earliest times to today begins by tracing the first development of villages and chiefdoms and the role of the Olmecs in unifying the region. The core of the book is devoted to the gigantic monuments of their successors, including the "City of the Gods" and the pyramids that still stand among the Maya forests. It confronts the question of the collapse of these societies 1,000 years ago and goes on to cover the Toltecs and the paradoxical Aztecs, the cataclysmic destruction of the Indian kingdoms by the Spanish, and the Central American tradition's stubborn but uncertain resurgence today. This generously illustrated introduction draws out issues for comparison with other civilizations, and is useful for both tourists and armchair travelers.