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The Conquest of the Incas (1970)

by John Hemming

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397546,403 (3.87)7
This monumental work of history removes the Incas from the realm of legend and shows the reality of their struggles against the Spanish invasion. Winner of the 1971 Christopher Award. Index; photographs, maps, and line drawings.

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A good telling of a seminal and famous historical period. However, despite its wealth of information about all sides of the conflict, it still seems to overplay the bravado and audacity of the conquistadors, and to underplay the role of Andean allies and the degree of intra-Inca civil war involved. For example, compare the information in this documentary on the archaeology of the siege of Lima: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/great-inca-rebellion.html In the book, this is a spectacular triumph of Spanish courage against all but overwhelming numbers. In the archaeology and lesser known sources, there was a major element of intra-Inca fighting. Perhaps while emphasising Spanish bravado and arms, history has neglected their political skill. ( )
  wa233 | Oct 26, 2018 |
It is always difficult to read histories such as this because when it comes right down to it, this is a conquest of a people who were indigenous to the land; in other words, people who were "there" first. I found myself holding my breath when I read the sentence, "the moment had finally come when the first Spaniards were to confront the ruler of Peru" (page 33) because you just knew they were going to execute him at some point (and they did). All that aside, Hemming does a thorough job detailing the Spanish conquest of Peru. It is a worthy read, especially if you are planning to visit the region. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Dec 20, 2016 |
Epic and magisterial, John Hemming's account of the conquest of Peru should be required reading for anyone who hopes to understand how 168 Spaniards prevailed over one of the most accomplished and extraordinary empires the world has known. Though more recent scholarship provides more up-to-the-minute information, none matches Hemming's masterful storytelling. Read it and weep! ( )
  ana_purna | Apr 14, 2008 |
If you want to understand the subcutaneous anger of contemporary Peruvians, read this book. ( )
  Autodafe | Apr 10, 2008 |
I began this book just before my visit to Peru and read it along the way - a great way to prepare for the trip and to absorb more during an incredibly educational experience. It really was a key part of my enjoyment of the trip, because I was able to glean more from our various guides and better appreciate the ruins and spanish buildings, particularly in and around Cuzco. The book is an interesting read, but note that the fall of the Incas is essentially completed during the first 100 pages - a good thing if you want a thorough understanding of the history in a very brief time, a bad thing if you were looking for more detail. (I actually liked this aspect of the book.) Another key to this book's success is Hemming's ability to convey who was actually writing the history since of course the goings on would be viewed and recorded differently by spanish conquistadors vs. religious types, to say nothing of the difference of opinion about what happened between the Spanish and the native quechuas. He does a good job of illustrating the different views and allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions about what may have actually happened. I found out about this book from Lonely Planet-the key travel book for the area-and I agree with them and thoroughly recommend it. No trip to Peru should be taken without it! ( )
  armyofbobs | Oct 29, 2006 |
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For my parents and godparents.
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On 25 September 1513 a force of weary Spanish explorers cut through the forests of Panama and were confronted by an ocean: the Mar del Sur, the South Sea or Pacific Ocean.
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This monumental work of history removes the Incas from the realm of legend and shows the reality of their struggles against the Spanish invasion. Winner of the 1971 Christopher Award. Index; photographs, maps, and line drawings.

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