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Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering…

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time (edition 2012)

by Mark Adams

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Title:Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time
Authors:Mark Adams
Info:Plume (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, books: currently owned, books read: total
Tags:Book, travel, history, Cultural property -- Protection -- Peru -- Machu Picchu Site, Adams; Mark; 1967- -- Travel -- Peru -- Machu Picchu Site, Bingham; Hiram; 1875-1956, Machu Picchu Site (Peru), softcover, Otto's Bookstore

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Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams


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I visited Machu Picchu in my early 20s and ever since, I have been fascinated by its history and its mysteries. I have read several accounts of Hiram Bingham III's life and his "discovery" of what many termed the Lost City of the Incas. (We all know that Bingham discovered the archeological site in the same manner that Columbus "discovered" America, as if no indigenous people ever lived in either place.) This book caught my eye at the library because of my prior interest in the subject.

Author Mark Adams worked for several adventure publications, but never engaged in any adventure of his own. But after reading the controversy over whether Bingham, the "discoverer" of Machu Picchu, had stolen important Peruvian artifacts and whether or not Yale was obliged to return them to Peru, he decided to research the matter and follow in Bingham's footsteps.

Adams writes: “Have you ever seen Mr. Travel Guy? He's the fellow who strides through international airports dressed like he's flying off to hunt wildebeests - shirt with dozens of pockets, drip-dry pants that zip off into shorts, floppy hat with a cord pulled tight under the chin in case a twister blows through the baggage claim area. All of this describes exactly what I was wearing. I could have been trick-or-treating as Hemingway."

The book tells the tale of Adam's physically-demanding trek through Peru with an Australian guide, John Leivers, who seemed to be Hiram Bingham's kindred spirit. Adams interspersed his own story with the history of the Spanish takeover of the Incan Empire and Bingham's own treks through Peru in search of important archeological finds.

Adams has an entertaining writing style that makes this book both an informative and a humorous read. ( )
  TeachArt1 | Mar 12, 2014 |
Adventure writer Mark Adams follows Hiram Bingham's search for Machu Picchu located in the Andes of Peru. Part traveloque, part art history and geography lesson and part comedy, the author's storytelling skills kept me interested in his journey. As a side note, Bingham is no longer seen as a hero and explorer but has been accused of smuggling artifacts out of Peru by the government. Adam's guide is an interesting character who may be basis for the character Indiana Jones. ( )
  Liz_57 | Jul 26, 2013 |
Read this on the way to Machu Picchu. Very effective melding of an interesting bit of early 20th century history and biography with a good peak at early 21st century travel zeitgeist. The book does a great job of portraying the principle people involved historical and in the present day. ( )
  Diabolical_DrZ | Apr 29, 2013 |
While I found this interesting, it also dragged a little bit. The parts about Hiram Bingham, old-time explorer (and artifact thief) were perhaps my favorites. I'd certainly love to read a book about Adams' guide John, who is a modern-day Bingham. Lots of fascinating people, not enough photographs. Worth a look. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
I have always had a love of ancient (and not quite so ancient) civilisations as well as a dream to travel the world. Machu Picchu has always been near the top of my list to places to go and, knowing that, my wife gave me this book.

It is about a long-time travel writing editor who finally decides to go on a journey of his own. He settles on Machu Picchu as it, and it's American "discoverer", was back in the news, as well as his wife and her family being Peruvian. But instead of just visiting the ruins he decides to make a proper adventure and follow in the footsteps of famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) explorer, Hiram Bingham III. Bingham is the man most responsible for bringing Machu Picchu and other Incan ruins to the attention of the world.

Part modern-day hiking story, part history lesson, part political lesson this book covers the totality of the Incan ruins in and around southern Peru. The author isn't alone though and is joined by an Australian adventure guide and a team of Peruvians in various roles. Through reading this my eyes were opened to the wider range of archeological remains to be found. Machu Picchu is the most famous but is also the most overrun with tourists. It's still near the top of my list but I am also adding Choquequirao, Espíritu Pampa, Llactapata, Ollantaytambo, and other sites.

The story of the Incans is a sad and unfortunately common one. Destroyed by greed we may never know the full truth behind their sometimes enigmatic ruins. Instead all we can do is our best to educate, preserve and protect. ( )
  Shirezu | Mar 31, 2013 |
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As the man dressed head to toe in khaki turned the corner and began racewalking uphill in my direction, I had to wonder: had we met before?
"I know it's a lot to take in," John said. "Any questions so far?"

I could only think of one. "Is this harder than the Inca Trail?"

For a split second, John looked like he didn't understand me. "Mark, this trek is a lot harder than the Inca Trail."
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Traces the author's recreation of Hiram Bingham III's discovery of the ancient citadel, Machu Picchu, in the Andes Mountains of Peru, describing his struggles with rudimentary survival tools and his experiences at the sides of local guides.

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