Book Name : The Last Days of the Incas
Author : Kim MacQuarrie
Genre : Non Fiction/History
Book Post : 35
What is it about? : It is about the conquest of the Incas by the Spanish in the 1500s.
How I came to read it? : Whenever I plan to visit a new country I try to read about its history so that I am able to put the places I am visiting in proper context and understand it better. These days I am in the process of making plans for a hike in the Andes mountains or doing the classic Machu Picchu hike in Peru. Machu Picchu are Inca ruins so I wanted to know what was Machu Pichu and why is it so famous? The next obvious question is who were the Incas and what happened to them? Doing a quick google search told me this was one of the best books on the subject so I got this from the Vancouver Public Library through my friend Suyog (My local library Fraser Valley Regional Library did not have this).
Did I like it? : Absolutely loved it! This is one of the best history books I have read in recent times. Even though the book is around 450 pages long, not for a minute did I feel that its dragging or the pace is sluggish. In fact, it reads like a fast paced novel. The book starts off with the story of the modern explorer Hiram Bingham who was the first person to bring the site of Machu Picchu to the world’s attention (though some of the locals knew about its existence) in 1911. From here we move back almost 350 years to the arrival of the first ship from Spain led by Francisco Pizzaro. This was the start of the untold brutality that was to come for the natives. The Spanish’s purpose was simple, loot as much money as possible and in the process if people die so be it. Anyway, they believed, these are savages and are meant to be conquered by a superior civilization. The Spanish believed they were the superior civilization even though their behavior over the next few centuries was anything but. This book made me angry. Very angry. Its a tragedy that unfolds over 350 pages of the book. You want the natives to win but since you know the present situation you know that they wont win. Even though the last important Inca king did wage guerilla warfare for almost 35 years after the Spanish took over their empire his resistance was ultimately futile. It makes for some hard reading.
But the book itself is very informative and answers some of the major questions people normally have. What’s the significance of the site of Machu Pichu in the overall Inca Kingdom, how advanced were the Incas, why and how did they collapse and more. If you are planning to a trip to Peru anytime this is must read book!