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Lost City of the Incas (Phoenix Press) Paperback – October 1, 2003


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Lost City of the Incas (Phoenix Press) + Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time + The Machu Picchu Guidebook: A Self-Guided Tour
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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Press
  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842125850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842125854
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Hiram Bingham was born in Hawaii in 1875 and educated at Yale. His early expeditions to South America and his discovery of Machu Picchu were just the start of a long and colourful career: he went on to command air force troops in France during the First World War and to become a Senator. He died in 1956. Hugh Thomson, the editor of this edition, is an explorer, travel writer and documentary filmmaker living in Bristol.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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This is an excellent, well written, and informative book.
Ronald J. MacDonald
While I didn't read it on this occasion, as I recollect the book gave a very good picture of what it must have been like a century ago.
D. G. James
Highly recommended for anyone who is about to visit Machu Picchu or has already visited.
Jill Clardy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By kaioatey on December 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is valuable for many reasons. First and foremost, it presents us with the views and attitudes of one of the world's foremost anthropologist-explorers from the beginning of the 20th century. This means lots and lots of passion and enthusiasm, a willingness to risk one's life in pursuit of an elusive goal and an ability to follow one's gut instincts. All traits which, sadly, have practically dissapeared from modern anthropology. In addition, of course, the book is permeated with the spirit of the times (1910-40ies) - which means patronizing attitudes toward the natives (the "savages", who for the most part clearly resented the tasks of having to clear the jungle, build bridges across impassable rapids and climb hills infested with snakes) and an eurocentric view of the world which now seems a bit naive.
All this being said, I must emphasize that this book is a treasure and a must read for anyone about to visit Macchu Picchu - if only to contrast the conditions encountered by Bingham and his Indians to those that exist today, when busloads of clueless tourists are delivered straight to the Temple of the Sun. The first third of the book consists of a superb Introduction including a recapitulation of the16th century records of the Incas and their empire (including the awesome Pachakuti Inca), very competent review of Inca technology (many of their and an excellent recapitulation of the life stories of the last 4 Incas. The last part describes the actual "discovery" of Macchu Picchu which occured by procuring, for a silver coin, the services of Anacleto Alvarez, a local Qechua who had been living among the ruins all along. Macchu Pichu therefore had never been truly "lost" and "discovery" has in this context many interesting connotations.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book tells the gripping story of the discovery of Machu Piccu. Although Bingham is an academic archaeologist he appears to be belong to the Indiana Jones school. As a travel book it is a gem - Bingham travels through uncharted teritory in the outback of Peru at teh beginning of the century. He risks his life climbing the steep hillsides to Machu Piccu after getting a tip from a local farmer. But the book is also full of detail on the finds he made at the site. It is an insight into the ways of the Inca, and the archaeologist. Although it can be a bit dry in places - the lists of finds at Machu Piccu - Bingham makes up for this with his absorbing adventure story in the earlier chapters. END
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Quigg VINE VOICE on March 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Bingham's book was written back in the 1940s. This details his adventures in finding the city of Machi Picchu. The city was never really lost, the Indians knew about it all along. Bingham just brought it to the world's attention. Some of Bingham's theories about the Incas have later been proven false. So if you want the definitive explanation of why Machu Picchu exists, this is not the book. Generally this is a good adventure book and details the last years of the Inca Empire before Francisco Pizarro destroyed it. This is located in the first part of the book, which is interesting. The second half of the book details his theories, some of which have been proven false. For those of you planning on visiting Peru and Machu Picchu, read this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on August 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In 1908, on a diplomatic mission he attained in the interest of increasing his understanding of South America and thus qualify as a professor of South American studies at Yale, Hiram Bingham casually accepted an invitation to visit the site of Incan ruins in Peru. His readings of the original Spanish conquistadores and explorers suggested there were more never found by the Europeans and he returned with an adventurous expedition. In 1911, on his own with a couple of local Indian farmers who were quietly using the land, he found the ruins of Machu Picchu high in the Andes under jungle overgrowth. Thus he ushered in the new era in Incan scholarship, 20th century adventurous exploration, archeology and, what he did not imagine at the time, tourism.

Bingham wrote THE LOST CITY OF THE INCAS with verve nearly 30 years after his achievement. To its credit, it is not riddled with hindsight but offers an immediacy of perspective. He begins with a very lucid, unbiased reading of the end of the Incan empire by the Europeans who leveled it. Bingham then recounts his own adventures in the discovery and subsequent archeological efforts, after which he provides a gloss on Incan culture as understood in those first digs. Bingham's narrative never bogs, even among the dryer material. The book stirs with wonder. Bingham may have been an ambitious man but his ambitions in this context are all about furthering knowledge for all.

The only reason to nick a star in the rating: datedness. Thanks to Bingham's inspiration, Incan studies perpetuate and some of his conclusions are no longer current. Though in one section he refers to native Indians as "savages," the book is largely and refreshingly free of elitism. He struck a deal with Peru to remove artifacts for study at Yale, with the stipulation that Peru could have them back when it wanted them. That's a drama that's unfolding now.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Margret Thomas on April 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Hiram Bingham goes on an exploration with a couple specialist friends to find the four capitals of the ancient Incan civilization. On the way, he goes through countless jungles, helpful indian cities, and steep mountain trails. The first part of the book is dedicated to informing the reader of interesting information about the Incas. The second and third parts described the trip through "Inca-land". I would request this book to anyone who wants to explore the Amazon Jungle someday.
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