- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 2 edition (March 31, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0500051631
- ISBN-13: 978-0500051634
- Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #963,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Monuments of the Incas (Revised Edition) 2nd Edition
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“Detailed mythical, historical, and archaeological information on many of the most important architectural works of the Inca empire . . . extraordinary beautiful photographs . . . a valuable contribution.”
- Latin American Antiquity
“Hemming’s text is impressively complimented by Ranney’s 174 stunning black-and-white photographs, which do an excellent job of demonstrating the overall splendor…. Highly recommended for both scholars and lay readers.”
- Library Journal
“Hemming makes good use of the indispensable work of contemporary Peruvian scholarship. . . . The photographs are so beautiful that they satisfy entirely.”
- Scientific American
About the Author
Formerly the Director of the Royal Geographical Society in London, John Hemming has traveled in and written extensively about the Amazon region. His previous books include Tree of Rivers.
Edward Ranney first traveled to Peru in 1962 and has made numerous subsequent visits. His published work includes Stonework of the Maya. He lives in Santa Fe.
Top customer reviews
Rarely have I found a book that incorporates photography and text as well as this one. Edward Ranney is a great photographer and John Hemming a great writer.Both have spent years in Peru. Hemming's " The Conquest of the Inca"" is the definitive account of the Inca and the Struggle with the Spanish. Together they have created a work that is remarkably free of western preconceptions. They give the reader a piccture of the Inca world in which art, ritual, architecture, cosmology and daily life were all one.
--In the 1990s, my mother was an Earthwatch volunteer on three different Incan projects. On the recommended reading list for each was this book.
--In 2006, my Peruvian guide said she had been tempted to give me a nudge as I leaned over a Machu Picchu guardrail to snap a picture. "Hand me this book again only when we're on flat ground," she advised, only partly in jest.
--In the two years I've been tracking it, rarely have I seen a used copy of the paperback for under $65.
Anyone who tries to find in-depth information about most of the 14 monuments covered in this book--originally published in 1982, reprinted in 1990--will quickly discover why it is still so sought after. (See the first comment for brief descriptions of the 14.)
Nor does one have to get too far into the text for other reasons to become immediately apparent, for included in each chapter are descriptions of the site/monument and the specifics about its construction that are so clear that I do not even have to look at the photographs to recall all I saw. Equally well explained is what is known/unknown as well as theories now discredited.
What makes this book so special, however, is the historical background Hemming weaves into his discussion of each site/monument, for it includes an avalanche of detail not found in guidebooks. Until I read this book, for example, I had not understood why flooding the plain at Ollantaytambo had helped repel the Spanish, for I'd never imagined that "the Spanish horsemen found themselves trying to maneuver in rising water that eventually reached the horses' girths." Likewise, neither my guide nor guidebooks mentioned that the condors on the coat of arms of the city of Cuzco were there "in memory of the fact that when [Sacsahuaman] was finally taken [by the Spaniards], these birds descended to eat the natives who had died in it."
Also skillfully woven throughout the entire text are the observations a) of those who were among the first Europeans to see the Incan works and talk to the Indians who remembered them being built, b) of 19th century adventurers who came upon them and c) of archaeologists who have studied them. For instance, on record is the anger at the wanton destruction of Cuzco that 16th century soldier-chronicler Cieza de Leon expressed: "The Spaniards have already done so much damage and left it in such a state that I hate to think of the responsibility of those governors who allowed so extraordinary thing to have been destroyed and cast down without giving a thought to the future....The remains of this fortress...should be preserved in memory of the greatness of this land!"
Equally interesting is the 53-page introduction to Inca architecture, for it, too, is written as a narrative that weaves in history, religious beliefs, and observations. Naturally much space is devoted to the "technically and aesthetically astounding" stonework. Yet explained as well are the other types of wall construction, the thatching of the roofs, the reason for rejection of elaborate decoration, the reasons monuments were sited where they were, the role the storehouses played in the military success of the Incas, and so on. Suffice to say that not only did this section answer every question I had but also many I would never have thought to ask.
That the text is so well written that it is an absolute pleasure to read seems almost to be icing on the cake. There are also end notes documenting sources, bibliographies of both early and modern works, a glossary of Quechan words and alternative spellings of Inca names and an index.
As for the illustrations-- Though in black and white, Edward Ranney's 157 photographs are so revealing that it did not even occur to me to wish they'd been in color. Also accompanying the text are 15 site plans, occasional sketches of buildings as they would have originally appeared, a map of the Inca empire and another of the Inca sites around Cuzco.
Given all that is in MONUMENTS OF THE INCAS, it did not surprise me that when we returned to Lima, my Peruvian guide (also an archaeologist who has worked on the tunnel between Sacsahuanman and Coricancha) asked to borrow it again and photocopied it in its entirety. --B. Evans, 1/12/08
See the comments for 1) brief descriptions/locations of the 14 monuments discussed, 2) the 1982 NY Times' review of this book, and 3) information about its author and photographer.