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The Incas Paperback – August 1, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1405116763 ISBN-10: 1405116765
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Editorial Reviews


"Transforms the field of Inca studies." Gary Urton, Harvard University <!--end-->

"There have been many syntheses of the Inca culture of the Central Andes of South America, but this one, by the leader in Inca studies, surpasses them all." Choice

"[D'Altroy] is recognised as an outstanding and well-published scholar on the provinces of the Inca Empire. I highly recommend this excellent synthesis of Inca studies ... for its comparative empire insights ... its smooth and lively narrative style and for the critical discussion of the abundant historical and archaeological sources on the Inca empire." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Book Description

The great empire of the Incas at its height encompassed an area of western South America comparable in size to the Roman Empire in Europe. This book describes and explains its extraordinary progress from a small Andean society in southern Peru to its rapid demise little more than a century later at the hands of the Spanish conquerors.The Incas is the first book fully to synthesize history and archaeology in a sweeping exploration of the entire empire from Chile to Ecuador. The author explains how the Incas drew from millennia of cultural developments to mould a diverse land into a dynamic, powerful, and yet fragile polity. From this integrated perspective, The Incas profoundly rethinks the nature of imperial formation, ideology, and social, economic, and political relations in Inca society.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405116765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405116763
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By N. Clarke on March 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Incorporating much of the most recent research into Inca history and society, Terence D'Altroy's work is undoubtedly the best (and most readable!) of the serious introductory texts in the field. He covers the various aspects clearly and thoroughly, elucidating the complexities of the historical narrative, social organisation, and economic production, alongside information on ritual practice, accounting methods, architecture and geography. We are given a synthesis of modern research, together with an awareness of how much remains to be understood, such the _khipu_ rope-knotting techniques that the Incas used to record the movement of goods and transmit laws.
There is a wealth of black-and-white photographs and near-contemporary illustrations, and D'Altroy makes extensive, judicious use of both archaeological finds and written sources (native and Spanish) from the decades immediately after the Conquest. The slant is primarily historical, and while - as with any study of Andean history - anthropological theory enters the picture, this is rather less jargon-filled and abstract than the average ethnographic study, but instead shows awareness of historical change and social evolution.
Extremely useful.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is intended as a synthesis of information on the Inca state. Written both as an introductory book for the broad reading public and as a benchmark for scholars, this book distills historical, archaeologic, and ethnographic information into a single nicely organized and written volume. D'Altroy, an archaeologist who has worked extensively in the Andes, covers the prehistory and history of the Inca state, its social and political organization, its religous ideology, and its material culture. The judicious use of historic sources, largely post-Spanish conquest writings, combined with archaeologically derived information is excellent. The writing is free of academic jargon and D'Altroy provides a comparative perspective by sparing but insightful comparisons with other pre-modern empires. It is difficult to write a book that will be interesting to general readers and useful to scholars but D'Altroy has done an excellent job of serving two masters. I've read other books on the Incas and this is beyond question the best single volume on this topic.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Atheen on August 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Professor D'Altroy, a UCLA graduate in 1981, is director of the Columbia Center for Archaeology and professor of anthropology at Columbia University. His specialty is the Inca, and this volume is a cumulative description of current research on that topic.

The Incas is a thorough description of the land and people of the region, including groups and empires that preceded the Inca. Written sources for the information are analyzed for their contemporaneity, reliability, and bias, while archaeological data are used to clarify these accounts where possible. The author discusses not only the rise and fall of the empire but the social order and political and religious ideology as well.

The notes to the chapters are interesting in themselves, as they provide additional information that addresses questions that seem to arise from natural curiosity about the details of events. My favorites had to do with the claimed ages of witnesses to events and those claimed for various emperors. The bibliography is truly amazing and contains entries of almost every copyright date, many annotated, recently printed volumes of early explorers' accounts. A casual perusal of the entries suggests that most of these date to 1558 and later. Some of the secondary entries and most of the primary sources are in Spanish, although there are more than enough in English to answer to the needs of the interested. Periodicals are a significant portion of the bibliography, however, and some of these may be difficult to find unless one has access to a large university library. Most of the modern book entries date to the late 1970's, although some of historical interest or significance date to the earlier years of the 20th Century.

The book is easily accessible to the average reader with an interest in Native Americans, the Incas, anthropology, archaeology, political history, social history, Spain in the New World, and cultures in conflict.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jorge I. Villanueva on December 15, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm preparing to travel to Peru in a month so i bought this book to get myself aquainted with the Incas and the book didnt dissapoint me.The authors do a very good job in presenting the Incas in a very interesting manner using terms that were easy to follow and understand.The part of the book that deals with their cult of the dead was very interesting and informative.Also it is very well explained how the Incas governed themselves and how do they managed to form a very impressive empire despite the fact that it was formed by a lot of different tribes and peoples from the Andean Plateau.This book is a must for anyone who wants to understand and, very important,to enjoy reading about such an amazing culture.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Henrique Drago F. Braga on August 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book provides all the information needed to understand many aspects of the Inca empire. Comparing recent archaeological findings with Spanish cronicles and with many Inca narratives about their lifestyle, Terence D'altroy offers a scientific point of view about this magnificent realm. The Incas constitute a major guide that must be readed before traveling to Peru.
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