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The Last Days of the Incas Paperback – June 17, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. With vivid and energetic prose, Emmy Award–winner and author MacQuarrie (From the Andes to the Amazon) re-creates the 16th-century struggle for what would become modern-day Peru. The Incas ruled a 2,500–mile-long empire, but Spanish explorers, keen to enrich the crown and spread the Catholic Church, eventually destroyed Inca society. MacQuarrie, who writes with just the right amount of drama ("After the interpreter finished delivering the speech, silence once again gripped the square"), is to be commended for giving a balanced account of those events. This long and stylish book doesn't end with the final 1572 collapse of the Incas. Fast-forwarding to the 20th century, MacQuarrie tells the surprisingly fascinating story of scholars' evolving interpretations of Inca remains. In 1911, a young Yale professor of Latin American history named Hiram Bingham identified Machu Picchu as the nerve center of the empire. Few questioned Bingham's theory until after his death in 1956; in the 1960s Gene Savoy discovered the real Inca center of civilization, Vilcabamba. Although MacQuarrie dedicates just a few chapters to modern research, the archeologists who made the key discoveries emerge as well-developed characters, and the tale of digging up the empire is as riveting as the more familiar history of Spanish conquest. B&w illus., maps. (May 29)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
The Incas were members of the group of Quechuan peoples of Peru, who established an empire from northern Ecuador to central Chile before the Spanish conquest. MacQuarrie reminds his readers that nearly 500 years ago, 168 Spaniards arrived in what is now Peru and collided with an Incan empire of 10 million people. The author, who lived in Peru for five years, chronicles the adventures of Hiram Bingham, who, in 1911, discovered Machu Picchu and believed it was the Incan capital. MacQuarrie also recounts the search by Gene Savoy, the American explorer who found Vicabamba, the true capital. He describes the adventures of other conquistadors and puppet kings, the rebellion of 1535, and other military attempts to conquer the Indians. MacQuarrie, a four-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, researched Spanish and Incan chronicles. The result is a first-rate reference work of ambitious scope that will most likely stand as the definitive account of these people. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
Top customer reviews
He has been balanced in his approach, and while he undoubtedly indicts the Spanish for their appalling behaviour, he does, subtly, show that they were brave (but, cruel) men, who had no respect for the Inca culture. This is, however, not restricted to the Spanish. The English did not respect Indian culture when they came into India. My own countrymen have been guilty of similar transgressions, I am sure, when the South Indian kings spread Hindu culture in South Easy Asia. This does not excuse the Spaniards, however.
The last days have been brought to life in a manner that is sad, exciting, tragic all rolled into one. Yes, I agree with the reviewer "CJA' in that he could have spoken about how the Spanish subsequently tried to stamp out the Inca culture, but I would not have traded this for the tale of how the ruins were discovered.
All in all, a marvellous book.