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The Last Days of the Incas

by Kim MacQuarrie

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4401740,748 (4)15
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 out-numbered 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. The author 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. He 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. -- From publisher description.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This is an excellent history of the Incas, Spanish conquest. Highly recommend before you visit Machu Picchu and other Inca sites in Peru. ( )
  addunn3 | Sep 21, 2020 |
Excellent, well-written history of one of the world's greatest empires and how it fell. ( )
  richardSprague | Mar 22, 2020 |
There are several books about the history of the Incas. The one I chose is Kim MacQuarrie’s “The Last Days of the Incas” (2007), and it is a good choice. Mr MacQuarrie writes, in a very accessible style – sometimes perhaps a little too lightheartedly – about the rise and fall, over a very short period, of the Inca empire. Briefly about the rise, its first expansion in around 1470 and further growth in the years after, and mostly about the Spanish band of conquistadores under Francisco Pizarro and his half-brothers, who expertly manipulated the naïve Inca emperors and where necessary – and often unnecessary – demonstrated their cruelty in subduing the locals. Which ultimately, despite a 30 year guerrilla war, led to the empire’s demise, ending with the execution of the last Inca emperor Tupac Amaru in 1572. Mr MacQuarrie tries to explain why a bunch of 168 horsemen manage to capture an emperor protected by 80,000 warriors, and why time and again small groups of Spanish beat large armies of Incas: they simply proved invincible with their armour, their steel weapons and their horses. Even internal intrigues and open hostilities amongst various Spanish power brokers are not being exploited by the Incas. It remains hard to believe, but the facts of history are there.
The last few chapters are dedicated to the explorers who discovered several of the major Inca sites, Machu Picchu and Vilcabamba, in the 20th Century. Entertaining, reading how they frequently were more focussed on their own achievements, and on competing for fame, than on historical correctness.
Great book, great to read whilst traveling Peru and visiting all the sites that played a major role in the battle between Spaniards and Incas. ( )
  theonearmedcrab | Jun 3, 2019 |
I read half of this. There are some interesting tidbits. However, endless battles where the Incas are hopefully out fought by greedy vicious bullies who win because they have iron, steel, horses and cannons is really disgusting. ( )
  yhgail | Feb 20, 2019 |
This book is a page turner that reads like fiction but it is not. I feel more educated on who the Incas and Spaniards were at that point of time. The Incas and the Spaniards were both rulers at a time when if you could take something with power it was yours. Anything goes. Both ruled their people in a brutal way. I was not aware how much an advantage having a horse and armor was. ( )
  GShuk | Jul 8, 2018 |
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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 out-numbered 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. The author 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. He 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. -- From publisher description.

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