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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive History
"Conquest of the Incas" is almost unquestionably the best book ever written about the 16th century Spanish conquest of the Inca empire in Peru and neighboring countries. It replaces Prescott's famous "Conquest of Peru," a brilliant piece of research and writing but one compiled at a Boston desk from archival materials. Hemming has much more personal familiarity with the...
Published on May 31, 2005 by Smallchief

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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good history, poor construction.
Conquest of the Incas is a great book for learning about the history of the Spanish conquest of a massive empire. The author is very thorough with respect to the actual conquest, but should have filled in more detail at the beginning of process. By page 100 the Incan empire had essentially fallen to the Spaniards. Surely more occured that is note worthy. This...
Published on February 19, 1999 by Chris Willett (cwillett@math.u...


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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive History, May 31, 2005
This review is from: The Conquest of the Incas (Paperback)
"Conquest of the Incas" is almost unquestionably the best book ever written about the 16th century Spanish conquest of the Inca empire in Peru and neighboring countries. It replaces Prescott's famous "Conquest of Peru," a brilliant piece of research and writing but one compiled at a Boston desk from archival materials. Hemming has much more personal familiarity with the subject and a much greater range of sources to draw on.

How it was that conquistador Francisco Pizarro and less than 200 men were able to overthrow the Inca empire of 15 million subjects is one of the great tales of history. "Conquest" details that struggle for power in convincing and fascinating detail, focusing on Pizarro and his brothers who were all brutal, deceitful, and courageous. Hemming gives almost equal time to the Incas and their leaders as they struggle against or accommodate themselves to Spanish rule. (As will be evident to contemporary visitors to Cuzco and Andean Peru, the Spanish conquest never penetrated very deeply. The Inca culture and language still live; Pizarro is despised by most Peruvians and the last Inca, Tupac Amaru, is a national hero.)

The story of the conquest has been romanticized in the classic play "Royal Hunt of the Sun" which is well worth seeing for its portraits of Pizarro and the Inca emperor Atahualpa. But the capture and murder of Atahualpa is only the beginning of the story. What followed was a 40 year struggle between Inca and Spaniard (and among Spaniards) for control of Peru that ended with the beheading of Tupac Amaru. The last chapter of the book moves into modern times as it describes the search for the lost Inca province of Vilcabamba and the discovery of Machu Pichu in the early 20th century. The mystery of the last Incas and their jungle retreats has fascinated writers and achaelogists until the present day -- as has the Inca empire, perhaps the most enigmatic of history.

"Conquest of the Incas" was published in 1970. Were it to be revised today more emphasis would probably be placed on the role of smallpox epidemics that disrupted the Inca empire and made it ripe for conquest. But that's about the only deficiency I find in the book. It's one of the best histories ever written -- so good that it has found few imitators.

Smallchief
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, November 21, 2000
By 
Bob Bennett III (Hollywood, ca United States) - See all my reviews
I began this book just before my visit to Peru and read it along the way - a great way to prepare for the trip and to absorb more during an incredibly educational experience. It really was a key part of my enjoyment of the trip, because I was able to glean more from our various guides and better appreciate the ruins and spanish buildings, particularly in and around Cuzco. The book is an interesting read, but note that the fall of the Incas is essentially completed during the first 100 pages - a good thing if you want a thorough understanding of the history in a very brief time, a bad thing if you were looking for more detail. (I actually liked this aspect of the book.) Another key to this book's success is Hemming's ability to convey who was actually writing the history since of course the goings on would be viewed and recorded differently by spanish conquistadors vs. religious types, to say nothing of the difference of opinion about what happened between the Spanish and the native quechuas. He does a good job of illustrating the different views and allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions about what may have actually happened. I found out about this book from Lonely Planet-the key travel book for the area-and I agree with them and thoroughly recommend it. No trip to Peru should be taken without it!
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping account of an unequal struggle between peoples, June 18, 1999
By A Customer
This is a readable and authoritative account of Pizarro's conquest of Peru and search for El Dorado in the 1530's: a must-read backgrounder for those who plan a trip to Cuzco and Machu Picchu and an astounding account of war strategies and incredible upsets in a hostile mountain terrain between unequal forces with vastly different technologies. It gives real understanding into present-day relationships between the Spanish and native peoples in South America. I couldn't put it down.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical writing at its best, April 11, 1998
I will be visting Peru next month and decided to read this book after the Lonely Planet guide to Peru mentioned Hemmings work as the definitive account of the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire. I finished this fine book and will be going to Cuzco, the former capital of the Incas, with much more enthusiam and interest than can be acquired reading a library full of guide books. What could be more interesting than this true story: Francisco Pizzaro lands on the coast of Peru in the early 1500s. Cortez has just taken Mexico. A powerful Inca emperor has died and a civil war has ensued among his sons. A winner, Atahulpa, is starting to emerge but the war is far from over. Atahalpa thinks very little of the accounts of these strange men, Europeans, who ask for a meeting. Pizzaro arranges a meeting and Atahalpa decends from the hills, carried on a litter, with thousands of warriors. The two meet, and Pizzaro and his handful of Spainards are able to capture the Inca and slaughter hundreds of astonished Indians! The account of the conquest that follows is so incredibly interesting and balanced that it would be hard to imagine an invented work of fiction being more enthralling. Hemming gives a fascinating description of the Inca society and of the conquistadors and missionaries. The Incas did not go down without a protracted fight and Hemming describes these wars in detail with first rate scholarship and complete balance. This book is written like Robert Hughes' The Fatal Shore, a description of the founding of Australia. Anyone who is interested in history, adventure, geography, and sociology could do no better than read either of these fine books.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and informative read, June 5, 2004
By 
Paul A. Peters (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Conquest of the Incas (Paperback)
I've spent quite a bit of time in Peru over the past few years and this is perhaps the most enlightening and informative book on the country that I've read. The conquest of the Incas is perhaps the most defining moment in the history of South America and remains so today. John Hemming, through an exciting narrative, carries the reader through the entire process of the conquest. Most of the time spent reading this book I couldn't wait to get to the next page, almost completely lost in the story. Most notably, one feels for both the Incans and the Spanish groups, neither if which are given preferential treatment. For anyone interested in South American history, Peru, the Incan society, or just looking for a good read I would highly recommend this book.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good history, poor construction., February 19, 1999
Conquest of the Incas is a great book for learning about the history of the Spanish conquest of a massive empire. The author is very thorough with respect to the actual conquest, but should have filled in more detail at the beginning of process. By page 100 the Incan empire had essentially fallen to the Spaniards. Surely more occured that is note worthy. This aside, the only other fault is the style in which the book is crafted. The author relies heavily on translated material. This is fine, but the quotations are not offset to distinguish them from his writings. It was easy to get lost between what he was claiming and what someone else said. Moreover, the text was endnoted rather than footnoted, and it was rather annoying to have to constantly flip to the end of the book to find out who was actually saying some of the things. Overall a very readable book. I would recommend it to anyone seeking to learn the general history of the conquest.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best history of the Incas, January 20, 2007
This review is from: The Conquest of the Incas (Paperback)
The Incas and the conquest of Peru are two of the most interesting stories in latin American history. This book captures the whole of that story and in wonderful detail relates the invasion of Pizzaro and the fall of the Incas. From Manco Inca to Tuti Cosi the Inca rebellions raged against Spanish occupation and eventually resulted in the free Inca state of Villacamba. In the end this state was doomed to fall to Spanish greed but the attempts at the Incas to preserve sovereignty is impressive. The writing style is excellent and the book is a very quick read. If you want to get a start on learning about the Inca's there is not a better book out there. If you are starting a study of South America as a whole this is an essential addition to that library. Highly recommend.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, hard-hitting, September 19, 2005
By 
William J. Higgins,III (Laramie, Wyoming United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Conquest of the Incas (Paperback)
John Hemming's "Conquest of the Incas" is a fascinating and detailed read of how Francisco Pizarro and his brotherhood of sixteenth century conquistadors wantonly crushed Peru's Inca Indian civilization. Citing from numerous first-hand accounts of the day, Hemming leaves no stone unturned.
With a minimum of men in 1532, Pizarro marches into Peru and captures the Inca King Atahualpa. From this point onward the book gives full treatment of Spanish plunderings, atrocities, Inca rebellion, warfare, further expeditions of the Spanish into Peru for gold and silver, establishments of towns, etc. for the next few decades, along with all the succeeding Inca Kings such as: Tupac Huallpa, Manco Inca, Paullu Inca, Sayri-Tupac, Titu-Cusi and culminating with Tupac Amaru Inca.
The author delves into the demoralizing of this advanced civilization by Spanish corruptness, dishonesty and greed. A totally intriguing read with much to be learned from this book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty of Beauty, March 4, 2006
By 
F. A Castellon "Prime" (Silver Spring, MD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Conquest of the Incas (Paperback)
I think that every person who lives in the Western Hemisphere needs to go to Peru or Bolivia and visit the ruins of one of the greatest civilazations that ever inhabited the earth at least once in there lifetime. There were the Egyptians, Athenians and the Incas. I visited Peru this past Xmas and this book made the trip 10 times more interesting. It opened my eyes to where I was standing, it opened my eyes to what I was looking at and it opened my eyes to the greatness of a people who were exploited in the latter years of there civilization later to be unsurped by the Spanish way of life.

This book takes you back to the beginning and explains how Pizarro and the Spaniards were able to fool and capture the Inca ruler Atahualpa. Then with superior weapons and armor and most of all, horses were able to fool and be admitted as rightful rulers of the former Empire of the Incas. This book does not look at the Spaniards in a harsh light. It describes them as doing the best that they could because they believed in the morality of the bible but greed took over their initial desires. The world is run more by money than faith. But the book notes that things could have been worse if a northern European power had discovered America and I agree. In the end though the best wishes and desires of the Spanish king could not conquer that awesome clitter that the sun brings to gold. It is something no man, espcially one from that time period can escape.

But the Incas were enslaved and put to work in harsh mines. They knew nothing about money or about Catholism but they were made to worship both. This book is a great study of greed and how it ingulfes ones soul. But there were heroes who fought for the Indians and their were rules made to protect them but the lust for gold blinded most. If you want to continue with the story of the Incas and their decendents after the closure of the book I recemment "Born in Blood and Fire" by John Charles Chasteen.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping account of an unequal struggle between peoples, June 18, 1999
By A Customer
This is a readable and authoritative account of Pizarro's conquest of Peru and search for El Dorado in the 1530's: a must-read backgrounder for those who plan a trip to Cuzco and Machu Picchu and an astounding account of war strategies and incredible upsets in a hostile mountain terrain between unequal forces with vastly different technologies. It gives real understanding into present-day relationships between the Spanish and native peoples in South America. I couldn't put it down.
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The Conquest of the Incas
The Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming (Paperback - April 28, 2003)
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