A new title in the Let's Go series of student-oriented travel guides, Middle East 2000 offers an interesting vantage point on the region's tough politics. To start with, a lot of very interesting countries are conspicuously not covered in this volume: Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. Even in countries included, sizeable areas can be missing (in southeastern Turkey "much of Let's Go coverage of this region was not researched in the summer of 1999 due to instability"). So, it's closer to the Let's Go ½ Middle East 2000. Also, the coverage is a bit lopsided, with nearly 200 pages for Egypt, and just 140 for Israel and 80 for Turkey. (Jordan and Syria get about 50, the West Bank and Gaza together get 20.)

Some highlights: Expect to pay no more than $15 a day, except in Oman and the UAE, where it's four times that amount. No less than in three places are observant Jewish men admonished not to show their skullcaps in the Palestinian areas, while Jews are also generally encouraged to "avoid revealing their religion in volatile areas." To hail a taxi in Cairo, "scream out your destination" as it goes by and it may deign to pick you up; but don't expect the meter to be used – a nice metaphor for the Egyptian economy . Egypt's "hack liquors" with names like Jonny Wadi's Brown Label, "have been linked to blindness and even death."

The guide gets high marks for reliability and fairness on culture, history, and politics. Men "often think that a woman's speaking to them implies a sexual advance." The Arab-Israeli conflict is summarized impartially. Syria's politics are called like it is: "Assad has since [1971] run the supposedly ‘democratic' nation of Syria as a tight-fisted dictatorship," as are Lebanon's: "Though formally an independent nation, Lebanon continues to take its major political cues from Damascus." Mistakes ("Ha'ib" for the disputed land between Egypt and Sudan, instead of "Halayib"; khawaga in Egypt translated as tourist when it is more like Westerner) are fortunately rare. Some punches are pulled: "black or dark-skinned travelers may find that they encounter some negative attention," which results largely "from the fact that Africans have traditionally been seen as interlopers"; "seen as slaves" would be more accurate. Though much of the humor is predictably sophomoric, some of it hits home ("Pack light: lay out only what you absolutely need, then take half the clothes and twice the money").