Customer Reviews: The Myths and Religion of the Incas: An illustrated encyclopedia of the gods, myths and legends of the Incas, Paracas, Nasca, Moche, Wari, Chimu and ... 240 fine art illustrations and photographs
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on October 15, 2011
The title of the book as given on the title page is "The Myths and Religion of the Incas: An illustrated encyclopedia of the gods, myths and legends of the first peoples of South America with over 200 fine-art illustrations", but this is misleading. The book is not specifically or even primarily about the Incas. It's not even limited to ancient peoples in the part of the Andes the Incas conquered. It covers a wide range of cultures, including Huari, Chavin, Chimu, Calima, Moche, Pukara, Nazca, Lima, Paracas, and Tiwanaku, as well as the Incas. In addition, illustrations from these widely disparate cultures are placed side by side, which would be very confusing for someone trying to learn about the Incas.

As a separate note, I'm not sure "the first peoples of South America" is accurate either. The oldest human remains found in South America have been in Chile and Argentina. This book deals primarily with what is now Peru and Ecuador.

The illustrations are beautiful and nicely printed on glossy paper, but they are not clearly tied to the subject of the chapter. Many, including photos of Lake Titicaca, seem to be included simply because they're nice photos. Lake Titicaca photos appear on nine pages in the book. The sunken courtyard at Tiwanaku appears on pages 20, 22, 36, 39, and 74. A photo of the textile with the winged figure carrying the staff appears on page 6 as a close-up and on page 12 as a more inclusive shot, but there is no guide to the reader to check the other page to get a fuller understanding of the textile.

This book has some stunning photos. I wish some had more close-up detail, and a roll-out of the vases would be helpful, but the photos themselves are very good.

However, I would not recommend this book for someone interested in learning about the Incas. It's very confusing to include a dozen other cultures from varying time periods. It also makes the subject impossible to cover well. It might work better as "Ancestors of the Incas" with a series of chapters covering specific aspects of earlier cultures that were later absorbed into Inca beliefs.
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The book has good pictures and account of the history of the Incas. The history of these people is beautiful and worth reading! The book's illustrations are excellent and his material is high quality.
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