LOUISIANA, AN EXPLORER’S GUIDE
By Cynthia V. Campbell
The Countryman Press,
One of the things that always concerns travelers who are buying guides to a place they’ve never visited is how accurate they are. One test of a guide’s accuracy is if the author has actually lived there or only visited to do research for the book. Obviously, someone who has lived in an area will know it better than someone who has just been there for a visit or two. No concerns about that with this book: Cynthia Campbell was travel editor for The Advocate for many years. She still lives in Baton Rouge, and she knows her etouffee from her gumbo.
That familiarity with her subject shines through in this handy 391-page volume. It is heavily indexed and peppered with simple and useful maps, photos and illustrations. The book is organized into the same regions the Louisiana Department Of Culture, Recreation And Tourism uses: Sportsman’s Paradise, Central Crossroads, Cajun Country, Greater New Orleans and Plantation Country.
Each section is filled with detailed descriptions of towns and villages, what’s to see, where to go fishing, find a hotel or restaurant, see a show, shop and what festivals are held in what places and when.
You get an insider’s view too. Here Campbell cautions visitors who come to the Capital City: “Baton Rouge should not be compared to New Orleans, famous for its historic French Quarter and all-night party scene. It has its own distinct music performed by local musicians and celebrated during the annual Baton Rouge Blues Festival. If you’re a night person, the downtown entertainment district, centered on Third Street, offers wine bars and clubs with bands performing everything from zydeco and blues to traditional jazz and new music.” That information is fresh and accurate.
The book has no full color pages other than the front and back covers. One or two nice color photos wouldn’t have pushed up the price very much and would have improved the presentation of the material a great deal.
If you have to sacrifice something, however, it’s better to give up some pretty color rather than accuracy or detail. As guides go, this book is exhaustive in scope.
And you can trust what you read. It’s a great resource for a new-to-the-bayou visitor or someone who’s lived in one part of the state but wants to visit a section he or she isn’t perfectly familiar with.
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