The Last Days of the Incas [NOOK Book]

Overview

In 1532, the fifty-four-year-old Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro led a force of 167 men, including his four brothers, to the shores of Peru. Unbeknownst to the Spaniards, the Inca rulers of Peru had just fought a bloody civil war in which the emperor Atahualpa had defeated his brother Huascar. Pizarro and his men soon clashed with Atahualpa and a huge force of Inca warriors at the Battle of Cajamarca. Despite being outnumbered by more than two hundred to one, the Spaniards prevailed -- due largely to their...
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The Last Days of the Incas

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Overview

In 1532, the fifty-four-year-old Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro led a force of 167 men, including his four brothers, to the shores of Peru. Unbeknownst to the Spaniards, the Inca rulers of Peru had just fought a bloody civil war in which the emperor Atahualpa had defeated his brother Huascar. Pizarro and his men soon clashed with Atahualpa and a huge force of Inca warriors at the Battle of Cajamarca. Despite being outnumbered by more than two hundred to one, the Spaniards prevailed -- due largely to their horses, their steel armor and swords, and their tactic of surprise. They captured and imprisoned Atahualpa. Although the Inca emperor paid an enormous ransom in gold, the Spaniards executed him anyway. The following year, the Spaniards seized the Inca capital of Cuzco, completing their conquest of the largest native empire the New World has ever known. Peru was now a Spanish colony, and the conquistadors were wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.

But the Incas did not submit willingly. A young Inca emperor, the brother of Atahualpa, soon led a massive rebellion against the Spaniards, inflicting heavy casualties and nearly wiping out the conquerors. Eventually, however, Pizarro and his men forced the emperor to abandon the Andes and flee to the Amazon. There, he established a hidden capital, called Vilcabamba. Although the Incas fought a deadly, thirty-six-year-long guerrilla war, the Spanish ultimately captured the last Inca emperor and vanquished the native resistance.

Kim MacQuarrie lived in Peru for five years and became fascinated by the Incas and the history of the Spanish conquest. Drawing on both native and Spanish chronicles, he vividly describes the dramatic story of the conquest, with all its savagery and suspense. MacQuarrie also relates the story of the modern search for Vilcabamba, of how Machu Picchu was discovered, and of how a trio of colorful American explorers only recently discovered the lost Inca capital of Vilcabamba, hidden for centuries in the Amazon.

This authoritative, exciting history is among the most powerful and important accounts of the culture of the South American Indians and the Spanish Conquest.
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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
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
Jonathan Yardley
Lively and dramatic, [the book] should appeal to a popular readership, but there is no evidence that -- apart from a certain amount of forgivable invention -- MacQuarrie has sacrificed historical accuracy in order to hype the story.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

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 2007 Reed Business Information
Forbes
Trekking through the Peruvian jungle in the summer of 1911, a young Yale professor named Hiram Bingham found the lost city of Vilcabamba, legendary last capital of the Inca empire. Looking at the crude stone dwellings, he was not impressed. Less than a month earlier, Bingham had discovered Machu Picchu, a glorious mountain-peak resort of immaculately cut rock befitting the pride and splendor of an Inca emperor. For the rest of his life, Bingham insisted, and most people believed, that Machu Picchu was Vilcabamba. Given the staggering 15th- and 16th-century accomplishments of the Inca people, thoroughly and entertainingly recounted by Emmy-winning documentarian Kim MacQuarrie, Bingham's error is understandable. In a mere 90 years, Inca emperors had built a nation 2,500 miles long, forcefully organizing ten million people into an agrarian economy rich enough to feed and clothe everyone and to adorn the elite in silver and gold. Yet on November 16, 1532, a band of Spanish ruffians, led by veteran conquistador Francisco Pizarro, managed to seize the nation for themselves--in the name of their king and pope--by kidnapping the emperor and slaughtering his retinue. "In less than two hours, the Inca Empire had been beheaded," writes MacQuarrie, "as neatly as one would sever the head of a llama or guinea pig." While the Spanish consolidated their holdings, ensconced in the old Inca capital of Cuzco, a small segment of the Inca population continued to fight the colonists from Vilcabamba for another four decades. MacQuarrie excels in his depiction of this guerrilla war, giving the lost city the honor it deserves. Bingham's folly was to assume that Vilcabamba would be distinguished by finearchitecture. The distinction of the last Inca emperors was in their noble struggle.—Jonathon Keats
From the Publisher
"This is a wonderful book about one of the most epic struggles of history, a conquest that transformed a continent."

— Wade Davis, Anthropologist and Explorer-in-Residence National Geographic Society, and author of One River

"A colorful, superbly crafted historical narrative that masterfully demonstrates that when cultures collide, unforeseen and tragic consequences follow....also a memorable adventure story, revealing the modern Indiana Jones-type characters that unearthed, and continue to discover, lost parts of the Inca Empire. Last Days of the Incas is historical writing at its best."

— Broughton Coburn, author of Everest: Mountain Without Mercy

"The Last Days of the Incas surprises, delivers history, and reads like a great yarn. I've read yards of books on the Incas, but this one took me out of the classroom and into that long-lost world."
— Keith Bellows, Editor in Chief, National Geographic Traveler

"The story of the European conquest of the fascinating and fabulously rich empire of the Incas is one of history's most engaging and tragic episodes...Thanks to The Last Days of the Incas, Kim MacQuarrie's superbly written new treatment of the subject, it is now accessible to the much broader audience it deserves."
— Vincent Lee, author of Forgotten Vilcabamba

"In this thrilling informative work...MacQuarrie also manages to spin the oft-told story of the discovery of Machu Picchu into narrative gold."

Entertainment Weekly

"Thoroughly and entertainingly recounted...MacQuarrie excels."

— Jonathan Keats, Forbes

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416539353
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 5/29/2007
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 86,712
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Kim MacQuarrie is a four-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker who has lived and worked all over the world. He lived for five years in Peru and spent some of that time living with a recently contacted tribe in the Amazon jungle, only 100 miles from Machu Picchu. He is the author of three illustrated books about Peru and now lives in Washington, D. C.

Visit the author at lastdaysoftheincas.com
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Read an Excerpt

The Last Days of the Incas


By Kim MacQuarrie

Simon & Schuster

Copyright © 2007 Kim MacQuarrie
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780743260497

Chapter One: The Discovery

July 24, 1911

The gaunt, thirty-five-year-old American explorer, Hiram Bingham, clambered up the steep slope of the cloud forest, on the eastern flank of the Andes, then paused beside his peasant guide before taking off his wide-brimmed fedora and wiping the sweat from his brow. Carrasco, the Peruvian army sergeant, soon climbed up the trail behind them, sweating in his dark, brass-buttoned uniform and hat, then leaned forward and placed his hands on his knees in order to catch his breath. Bingham had been told that ancient Inca ruins were located somewhere high up above them, nearly in the clouds, yet Bingham also knew that rumors about Inca ruins were as rampant in this little explored region of southeastern Peru as the flocks of small green parrots that often wheeled about, screeching through the air. The six-foot-four, 170-pound Bingham was fairly certain, however, that the lost Inca city he was searching for did not lie ahead. Bingham, in fact, had not even bothered to pack a lunch for this trek, hoping instead to make a quick journey up from the valley floor, to verify whatever scattered ruins might lie upon the jagged peak rising above, and then to hurry back down. As the lanky American with the close-cropped brown hair and the thin, almostascetic face began to follow his guide up the trail again, he had no idea that within just a few hours he would make one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries in history.

The air lay humid and warm upon them, and, looking up, they saw the ridgetop they were seeking stood another thousand feet above, obscured by sheer-sided slopes festooned with dripping vegetation. Above the ridge, swirling clouds alternately hid and then revealed the jungle-covered peak. Water glistened from freshly fallen rain, while an occasional mist brushed across the men's upturned faces. Alongside the steep path, orchids erupted in bright splashes of violet, yellow, and ocher. For a few moments the men watched a tiny hummingbird -- no more than a shimmer of fluorescent turquoise and blue -- buzz and dart about a cluster of flowers, then disappear. Only a half hour earlier, all three had carefully stepped around a vibora, a poisonous snake, its head mashed in by a rock. Had it been killed by a local peasant? Their guide had only shrugged his shoulders when asked. The snake, Bingham knew, was one of many whose bite could cripple or kill.

An assistant professor of Latin American history and geography at Yale University, Bingham ran a hand down one of the heavy cloth leg wrappings that he had wound all the way up from his booted ankles to just below his knees. Might prevent a snakebite, Bingham no doubt thought. Sergeant Carrasco, the Peruvian military man who had been assigned to the expedition, meanwhile, undid the top buttons to his uniform. The guide trudging ahead of them -- Melchor Arteaga -- was a peasant who lived in a small house on the valley floor more than a thousand feet below. It was he who told the two men that on top of a high mountain ridge Inca ruins could be found. Arteaga wore long pants and an old jacket, and had the high cheekbones, dark hair, and aquiline eyes of his ancestors -- the inhabitants of the Inca Empire. Arteaga's left cheek bulged with a wad of coca leaves -- a mild form of cocaine narcotic that once only the Inca royalty had enjoyed. He spoke Spanish but was more at home in Quechua, the Incas' ancient language. Bingham spoke heavily accented Spanish and no Quechua; Sergeant Carrasco spoke both.

"Picchu," Arteaga had said, when they had first visited him the day before. The words were difficult to make out, filtering as they did past the thick gruel of coca leaves. "Chu Picchu," it sounded like the second time. Finally, the short peasant had firmly grabbed the American's arm and, pointing up at a massive peak looming above them, he uttered two words: "Machu Picchu" -- Quechua for "old peak." Arteaga turned and squinted into the intense brown eyes of the American explorer, then turned toward the mountain. "Up in the clouds, at Machu Picchu -- that is where you will find the ruins."

For the price of a shiny new silver American dollar, Arteaga had agreed to guide Bingham up to the peak. Now, high on its flank, the three men looked back down at the valley floor, where far below them tumbled the Urubamba River, white and rapids-strewn in stretches, then almost turquoise in others, fed as it was by Andean glaciers. The river would eventually flatten out and coil its way down into the Amazon River, which stretched eastward for nearly another three thousand miles, across an entire continent. One hundred miles to the west lay the high Andean city of Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Incas -- the "navel" or center of their once nearly 2,500-mile-long empire.

Almost four hundred years earlier, the Incas had abruptly abandoned Cuzco, after the Spaniards had murdered their emperor and installed a puppet emperor on the throne. A large number of them had then headed en masse down the eastern side of the Andes, eventually founding a new capital in the wild Antisuyu -- the mostly jungle-choked eastern quarter of their empire. The Incas called their new capital Vilcabamba and for the next nearly four decades it would become the headquarters of a fierce guerrilla war they would carry out against the Spaniards. In Vilcabamba, Inca warriors learned to ride captured Spanish horses, to fire captured Spanish muskets, and often fought alongside their nearly naked Amazonian allies, who wielded deadly bows and arrows. Bingham had been told the remarkable story of the Incas' little known rebel kingdom a year earlier, while on a brief trip to Peru, and was amazed that no one seemed to know what had become of its capital. A year later, Bingham was back in Peru, hoping that he would become the person to discover it.

Thousands of miles from his Connecticut home and clinging to the side of a cloud forest peak, Bingham couldn't help but wonder if his current climb would result in a wild-goose chase. Two of his companions on the expedition, the Americans Harry Foote and William Erving, had remained on the valley floor in camp, preferring that Bingham go off in search of the ruins himself. Rumors of ruins often remained just that -- rumors -- they no doubt thought. One thing his companions knew well, however, was that no matter how tired they were, Bingham himself always seemed tireless. Not only was Bingham the leader of this expedition, but he had also planned it, had selected its seven members, and had raised the financing bit by difficult bit. The funds that now allowed Bingham to be hiking in search of a lost Inca city, in fact, had come from selling a last piece of inherited family real estate in Hawaii, from promises of a series of articles for Harper's magazine on his return, and from donations from the United Fruit Company, the Winchester Arms Company, and W. R. Grace and Company. Although he had married an heir to the Tiffany fortune, Bingham himself had no money -- and never had.

The only son of a strict, fire-and-brimstone Protestant preacher, Hiram Bingham III had grown up in near poverty in Honolulu, Hawaii. His impoverished youth was no doubt one of the motivations for why Bingham, even as a boy, had always been determined to climb his way up the social and financial ladders of America or, as he put it, "to strive for magnificence." Perhaps one episode from Bingham's younger years best illustrates how he presently came to be scrambling up a high Peruvian mountain: when Bingham was twelve years old, suffocating from what he considered the dreary, strict life of a minister's son (where for the smallest infraction he was punished with a wooden rod), Bingham and a friend decided to run away from home. Bingham had read plenty of Horatio Alger stories, and, torn between his own dreams and possible eternal damnation in hell, he decided that he might best escape by taking a ship to the mainland, and then begin his climb toward fame and fortune.

That morning, with his heart no doubt pounding and trying hard to appear at ease, Bingham pretended he was going to school, left the house, and, as soon as he was out of sight, went directly to the bank. There, he withdrew $250, which Bingham's parents had insisted he save, penny by penny, so that he could go to college on the mainland. Bingham quickly bought a boat ticket and a new suit of clothes, packing everything into a suitcase he had hidden in a woodpile near his home. Bingham's plan was to somehow make his way to New York City, to find a job as a newsboy, and then -- when he had saved up enough money -- eventually to go to Africa, where he hoped to become an explorer.

"I believe that he got the fancy from the books he has read," the wife of a neighbor later told his parents. Indeed, young Bingham was a voracious reader. But his carefully laid plans soon began to unravel, although through no fault of his own. For some reason, the ship on which he had booked passage did not depart that day and instead remained in port. Meanwhile, Bingham's best friend and fellow escapee -- whose very different and happy home life hardly justified such a drastic undertaking -- had lost his courage and confessed everything to his father. Soon, the boy's father alerted the Bingham household. Bingham's father found his son down at the port in the late afternoon, standing determinedly with his valise in hand before the ship that was to bear him across the seas and ultimately to his destiny. Amazingly, Bingham was not punished; instead, he was given more freedom and latitude. And, perhaps not surprisingly, twenty-three years later Hiram Bingham found himself scrambling up the eastern face of the Andes, on the cusp of making one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries in the history of the world.

Shortly after noon, on July 24, 1911, Bingham and his two companions reached a long, wide ridgetop; on it sat a small hut, roofed with dried brown ichu grass, some 2,500 feet above the valley floor. The setting was magnificent -- Bingham had a 360 degree view of the adjacent jungle-covered mountain peaks and of the clouds rimming the whole area. To the left, and connected to the ridge, a large peak -- Machu Picchu -- rose up and towered above. To the right, another peak -- Huayna Picchu or "young peak" -- did the same. As soon as the three sweaty men reached the hut, two Peruvian peasants, wearing sandals and typical alpaca-wool ponchos, welcomed them with dripping gourds of cool mountain water.

The two natives, it turned out, were farmers and had been cultivating the ancient terraces here for the last four years. Yes, there were ruins, they said, just ahead. They then offered their visitors some cooked potatoes -- just one of an estimated five thousand varieties of potatoes that grow in the Andes, their place of origin. Three families lived there, Bingham discovered, growing corn, sweet and white potatoes, sugarcane, beans, peppers, tomatoes, and gooseberries. Bingham also learned that only two paths led to the outside world from atop this high mountain outpost: the path that they had just struggled up and another one, "even more difficult," the peasants said, that led down the other side. The peasants traveled to the valley floor only once a month, they said. Natural springs bubbled up here, and the area was blessed with rich soil. Eight thousand feet up in the Andes, with abundant sun, fertile soil, and water, the three peasant families had little need of the outside world. A good defensive site, Bingham no doubt thought, as he drank several gourdfuls of water, looking around at the surroundings. He later wrote,

Through Sergeant Carrasco [translating from Quechua into Spanish], I learned that the ruins were "a little further along." In this country one can never tell whether such a report is worthy of credence. "He may have been lying," is a good footnote to affix to all hearsay evidence. Accordingly, I was not unduly excited, nor in a great hurry to move. The heat was still great, the water from the Indian's spring was cool and delicious, and the rustic wooden bench, hospitably covered immediately after my arrival with a soft woolen poncho, seemed most comfortable. Furthermore, the view was simply enchanting. Tremendous green precipices fell away to the white rapids of the Urubamba [River] below. Immediately in front, on the north side of the valley, was a great granite cliff rising 2,000 feet sheer. To the left was the solitary peak of Huayna Picchu, surrounded by seemingly inaccessible precipices. On all sides were rocky cliffs. Beyond them cloud-capped, snow-covered mountains rose thousands of feet above us.

After resting awhile, Bingham finally stood up. A small boy had appeared -- wearing torn pants, a brightly colored alpaca poncho, leather sandals, and a broad-rimmed hat with spangles; the two men instructed the boy in Quechua to take Bingham and Sergeant Carrasco to the "ruins." Melchor Arteaga, meanwhile -- the peasant who had guided them here -- decided to remain chatting with the two farmers. The three soon set off, the boy in front, the tall American behind, and Carrasco bringing up the rear. It didn't take long before Bingham's dream of one day discovering a lost city became a reality.

Hardly had we left the hut and rounded the promontory, than we were confronted by an unexpected sight, a great flight of beautifully constructed stone-faced terraces, perhaps a hundred of them, each hundreds of feet long and ten feet high. Suddenly, I found myself confronted with the walls of ruined houses built of the finest quality Inca stone work. It was hard to see them for they were partly covered with trees and moss, the growth of centuries, but in the dense shadow, hiding in bamboo thickets and tangled vines, appeared here and there walls of white granite carefully cut and exquisitely fitted together.

Bingham continued:

I climbed a marvelous great stairway of large granite blocks, walked along a pampa where the Indians had a small vegetable garden, and came into a little clearing. Here were the ruins of two of the finest structures I have ever seen in Peru. Not only were they made of selected blocks of beautifully grained white granite; their walls contained ashlars of Cyclopean size, ten feet in length, and higher than a man. The sight held me spellbound.... I could scarcely believe my senses as I examined the larger blocks in the lower course, and estimated that they must weigh from ten to fifteen tons each. Would anyone believe what I had found?

Bingham had had the foresight to bring a camera and a tripod, just in case, and thus spent the rest of the afternoon photographing the ancient buildings. Before a succession of splendid Inca walls, trapezoidal doorways, and beautifully hewn blocks, Bingham placed either Sergeant Carrasco or the small boy -- and asked them to stand still while he squeezed the release to his shutter. The thirty-one photos Bingham took on this day would become the first of thousands that Bingham would eventually snap over the coming years, many of them ending up within the covers of National Geographic magazine, which would co-sponsor subsequent expeditions. Only a week after having left Cuzco, Hiram Bingham had just made the major achievement of his lifetime. For even though Bingham would live nearly another half century and would eventually become a U.S. senator, it was this brief climb up to an unknown mountain ridge in Peru that would earn him everlasting fame.

"My dearest love," Bingham wrote his wife the next morning from the valley floor, "We reached here night before last and pitched the 7 x 9 tent in a cozy corner described above. Yesterday [Harry] Foote spent collecting insects. [William] Erving did some [photographic] developing, and I climbed a couple of thousand feet to a wonderful old Inca city called Machu Picchu." Bingham continued: "The stone is as fine as any in Cuzco! It is unknown and will make a fine story. I expect to return there shortly for a stay of a week or more."

Over the next four years, Bingham would return to the ruins of Machu Picchu two more times, clearing, mapping, and excavating the ruins while comparing what he discovered with the old Spanish chronicles' descriptions of the lost city of Vilcabamba. Although he at first had some doubts, Bingham was soon convinced that the ruins of Machu Picchu were none other than those of the legendary rebel city of Vilcabamba, the final refuge of the Incas.

In the pages of his later books, Bingham would write that Machu Picchu was "the 'Lost City of the Incas,' favorite residence of the last Emperors, site of temples and palaces built of white granite in the most inaccessible part of the grand canyon of the Urubamba; a holy sanctuary to which only nobles, priests, and the Virgins of the Sun were admitted. It was once called Vilcapampa [Vilcabamba] but is known today as Machu Picchu."

Not everyone was convinced that Bingham had discovered the Incas' rebel city, however. For the few scholars who had actually read the old Spanish chronicles, discrepancies seemed to exist between the Spaniards' description of the city of Vilcabamba and the admittedly stunning ruins that Bingham had found. Was the citadel of Machu Picchu really the last stronghold of the Incas as described in the chronicles? Or could it be that Hiram Bingham -- a man now feted and lionized around the world as an expert on the Incas -- had made a colossal error, and the rebel city had yet to be found? For those scholars who had their doubts, there was only one way to find out -- and that was to return to the sixteenth-century chronicles in order to learn more about how and why the Incas had created the largest capital of guerrilla fighters the New World had ever known.

Copyright © 2007 by Kim MacQuarrie



Continues...


Excerpted from The Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie Copyright © 2007 by Kim MacQuarrie. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Contents

Chronology of Events

Preface

1. The Discovery

2. A Few Hundred Well-Armed Entrepreneurs

3. Supernova of the Andes

4. When Empires Collide

5. A Roomful of Gold

6. Requiem for a King

7. The Puppet King

8. Prelude to a Rebellion

9. The Great Rebellion

10. Death in the Andes

11. The Return of the One-Eyed Conqueror

12. In the Realm of the Antis

13. Vilcabamba: Guerrilla Capital of the World

14. The Last of the Pizarros

15. The Incas' Last Stand

16. The Search for the "Lost City" of the Incas

17. Vilcabamba Rediscovered

Epilogue: Machu Picchu, Vilcabamba, and the Search for the Lost Cities of the Andes

Acknowledgments

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 46 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 46 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Strong, Fresh Take on Spanish Conquest of the Incas

    The Last Days of the Incas is a terrifically readable history of the Spanish conquest of the Incas and Peru. Whereas John Hemming's Conquest of the Incas is the definitive modern history, MacQuarrie brings to bear a more narrative and engaging approach.

    Last Days is historically thorough, but MacQuarrie writes many of the incidents of the conquest in a more fictional style. Often scenes are are qualified with comments like "Undoubtedly, Pizarro felt such-and-such," or "No doubt Manco looked out over the valley, etc." Once one accepts the speculative commentary for what it is, it shouldn't be bothersome, and is more than made up for by the narrative flow.

    The story of the conquest is well-known: Pizarro & co. swoop into Peru with only a handful of fully armed conquistadors looking for fame and fortune. This small band (aided unknowingly by a smallpox plague ravaging North, Central and South America) kidnap and kill their way to riches and domination. The Incas are able to consolidate their many tribes, but the rebellions all flame out.

    Ultimately, the Spanish prevail despite their own internecine battles that ends in the death of Francisco Pizarro by Spanish hands.

    John Hemming is for the hardest core academic reading of the Incan conquest. MacQuarrie is faster and more fiction-like read. Both are highly recommended.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2008

    Swashbuckling Spanish Conquistadors Come Alive in The Conquest of Incas!

    In preparation for our upcoming Peru trip, my wife and I have treasured the reading of The Last Days of The Incas by Kim MacQuarrie. This book has added greatly to our excitement about undertaking this Peru trip. In reading The Last Days of The Incas, we were captivated by the dramatic Andes terrain, the many visual splendid achievements of the Inca civilization 'cities/temples/ strongholds/Machu Picchu', the many highs and lows of the battles/military tactics between the Spanish Conquistadores and the Incas, the sharp contrast in weaponry between them, and the most commanding central characters 'the dynamic Pizzaro brothers and the Inca Emperors and their Military Generals'. In The Last Days of The Incas, we also enjoyed MacQuarrie¿s insights into the Explorer Hiram Bingham and the discoveries of Machu Picchu and Vilcabamba. Kim MacQuarrie's thorough research and wonderful writing style makes The Last Days of The Incas come alive in a most compelling way!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Completely Engrossing

    This was of the most thrilling books I have read in years. Brilliant characters. Amazing story. Really couldn't stop reading once I began. I felt like I had taken a time machine and I was there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2010

    Loved It

    Such a memorable book. Great characters. Great drama. One of my favorites of all time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2010

    Fascinating

    I was unaware of this fascinating portion of history until I read The Last Days of the Incas. I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2009

    Last Days of the Incas by Kim McQuarrie

    This is the best book of its genre. I have read widely on the Spanish conquest and history of the Inca empire but rarely have encountered such enjoyable reading. Mr. McQuarrie has assembled a vast and complicated history into excellent scholarship that is also good reading. If this subject interests, buy this book. If it does not, buy it and get interested.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2008

    One of the Best Historical Narratives you will read

    MacQuarrie delivers one of the best Historical Narratives you will read. The subject matter is very interesting: the Incan Empire 10 million strong being conquered by a Spanish force of less than 200 men - albeit men on horses with superior military technology. But, the thing that sets this book appart is the way the story is told. That's what I mean about this book being a great historical narrative. The author does a masterful job at just telling the story of the Spanish conquest over the Incan empire. MacQuarrie is a masterful story teller!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2008

    A Tremendous Read of an Appalling Epoch

    I loved this book! Like many others interested in the Incas and their first encounters with the Spanish, I knew the eventual results, but not much about how it all happened. The author took me inside the thinking of the principal players on both sides. It's still amazing to me that the original Spanish beachhead of less than 200 men managed to bring down the leadership of 10 million people. MacQuarrie did a superb job of leading me through the very first encounter, the resulting long resistance, and the final bitter end of the Inca rule. I very much recommend this work...was sad to reach that last page.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2008

    A Feast for Fans of Narrative Historical Fiction

    The Last Days of the Incas is one of the best books I¿ve read about the Incan dynasty ¿ and I¿ve read a lot. Most books on the subject have been dry, historical accounts occasionally peppered with an interesting detail about daily life. However, MacQuarrie¿s book breathes life into this entire period. The narrative moves the story along like fiction (though it is meticulously researched history) and it is filled with amazing details of both the Spaniards and Incas that make the book a fascinating read. Examples of such a detail: Potatoes were a staple of the Incan diet ¿ as were guinea pigs- and during the time of the Incas there were over 5000 varieties of potatoes in this region of South American. I live in Ecuador and it is fascinating to see that to this day the people still eat guinea pig (they call it cuy ¿ and now they eat chicken too) - and a trip to the market will reveal at least a few hundred of the thousands of types of potatoes still available. As with many lost cultures, the truth of what transpired can be difficult to determine. But truth can be stranger than fiction and this book presents the best evidence of the last days of the Incas.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2008

    Beautifully told history of the exotic clash between the Incas and Conquistadores

    I found this to be a wonderful dramatic retelling of a shocking and amazing period of history. Kim MacQuarrie retells the history of the confrontation and exploitation of the Incas by the Conquistadores. MacQuarrie presents a vivid dramatic story that you would never believe if it had been fabricated. The story is exotic, tragic and brilliant and Kim's writing abilities make a rivoting and quick read. This is history I was never taught in school and yet helped define western civilization in the Americas and our relationships with the Indigenous peoples who preceeded us. MacQuarrie also brings the story into the present by describing recent attempts to unravel Inca history through the archeology they left behind and the fairly recent rediscovery of the last hidden Inca capital had been created on the edge of the Amazon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2007

    A reviewer

    I've tried reading Prescott twice and many others regarding this subject. Author of the LAST DAYS of the INCAS is the perfect writer to make this history understandable. Far better then Gibbon and an adventure in reading. Even maps included are great. If you are into reading fiction then I recommend you try this history. Lot better then fiction. This book contains notes that make a reader thirst for more!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2007

    Fantastic Narrative History

    What an excellent book! I found myself sitting in parking lots listening. I just couldn't turn it off. Not since James Michener has an author made me feel the culture and environment as if I lived during that era. Furthermore, the organization of the Spanish conquistadors and their relationship to King Charles V was fascinating. The Incas had built one of the most interesting societies in the history of the world. I heartily recommend this audiobook, but, make sure you are prepared to be mesmerized!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2007

    A Rollercoaster Read

    Before I read this book, my knowledge of the Inca Empire was limited to a vague notion that they once had a great civilization that was quickly destroyed by a small bunch of Spaniards. I had no idea of the blood curdling drama that awaited me. Kim MacQuarrie¿s book is a riveting, thrill a minute tale written with such a skillful combination of elegant restraint and high stakes immediacy that I couldn¿t wait to get to the next chapter and on some occasions, 'like when Manco Inca first mobilized the Incas into rebellion to name but one example', I had to remind myself to exhale. Right up to the end, I was willing the Incas to prevail, all the while knowing that their days were numbered. The fact that all the issues it so painstakingly and beautifully brings to the surface are scarily relevant to today¿s world does the book no disservice either. Read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2007

    I was unable to put it down...

    As an amateur Inca enthusiast planning my first trip to Peru I purchased a copy of 'The Last Days of the Incas' after reading a review in the newspaper. I wasn¿t disappointed. Kim MacQuarrie¿s prose brings what is one of the most exciting stories that has ever occurred in the Americas to life in vivid and startling detail. Once I began reading the book, I literally was unable to put it down 'nor was my husband, who read it after me'. Not only does ¿The Last Days of the Incas¿ bring the conquest to life, but it also includes chapters on the modern discoveries of Inca ruins in Peru, and also explains how Machu Picchu 'a must see' fits into the history of the Inca Empire. This book does an amazing job of placing you at the heart of the conquest. Francisco Pizarro and his four brothers come completely to life as do a colorful assortment of other Inca and Spanish characters. You¿ll feel the sharp wind in the Andes whipping round your legs, the buzz of bullets from harquebusiers whizzing by your ears as you experience the valiant and brave efforts of the rebel Inca emperor, Manco Inca, struggle against all odds to hold onto his empire. If you are going on vacation to Peru or South America, or just want to experience an amazing and epic story first hand, then I can¿t recommend this book enough. Really extraordinary.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2012

    Great Book, Buy it.

    Great Book, Buy it.

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  • Posted April 1, 2012

    Highly recommended

    We're planning to go to Peru so I got a copy for my Nook. The book is very well written, thus a great read. The characters are very interesting, if not disturbing. If you want to know about the last days of the Incas you should read this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    Repetitive prattling of a know-it-all liberal

    If you'd like to waste 10 hours of your life being lectured to by a whiny know-it-all who feels any indigenous people are superior, please by this book. If you'd like to avoid this ongoing European guilt trip and read about history without the sermonizing, buy a real history book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    Thrilled me

    I was totally engrossed. Want to know more. The perfect introduction to the Inca story.

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  • Posted August 23, 2011

    Excellent, reads like a novel.

    Having read Prescott's history several decades ago, I found MacQuarrie's history much more vibrant and real. He brings the whole saga to life and, in spite of the numerous repetitions, the book reads like an action packed novel and was very hard to put down. A very nice piece of writing and research and except for the criticism above and a lack of maps, I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the exploration and conquest of South America. Kudos to MacQuarrie and Simon & Shuster!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2010

    Great Book

    Loved this book. Sorry that it ever had to end.

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