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Kim Macuarrie lived in Peru for five years and became fascinated by the Incas and the history of the Spanish conuest Drawing on both native and Spanish chronicles he vividly describes the dramatic story of the conuest with all its savagery and suspense This authoritative exciting history is among the most powerful and important accounts of the culture of the South American Indians and the Spanish Conuest


10 thoughts on “The Last Days of the Incas

  1. says:

    After traveling to Peru last spring and visiting several of the historical archaeological sites I really wanted to understand the history One of our guides most definitely of Inca descent became very saddened and nostalgic when discussing this topic She was very conversant with the history of the Incas and their achievements But there is only so much one can absorb in the course of several days of touring So this book fills the void for me The book describes the conuest of the Incas by the Spanish conuistadors It also covers the twentieth century explorations and discoveries of some of the most remarkable archaeological sitesWhat strikes me the most is the personalities of the Spaniards The invasions were led primarily by Francisco Pizarro He and his brothers were greedy barbaric and deceitful Their greed for gold and other riches was unbounded He would go to any lengths to acuire fortunes The Spaniards were so greedy that they even had battles amongst themselves Hundreds of Spaniards fought against each other in a major battle under the gladdened eyes of the IncasBy today's standards the Incas were also violent But they were thoroughly out matched by the technology of the Spaniards; the Spaniards had horses metal armor and metal swords which the Incas lacked The Spaniards knew how to take advantage of their technological superiority The Inca armies out numbered the Spaniards by hundreds to one The Spaniards numbered a few hundred and they conuered an empire that had armies in the many tens of thousands The Spaniards were very valiant indeedI am just amazed how much of the history was documented After all most of the Spaniards were illiterate and the recorded history was written so very far from Spain The author Kim Macuarrie has managed to put together a very detailed timeline with what must have been a huge research project The writing is very clear and at the same time the book is engaging almost an adventure story The author does not pass judgment on either the Spaniards or the Incas He tells the history in a straight forward manner and allows the reader to form his own opinions about the historical figuresI listened to this book as an audiobook narrated by Norman Dietz Despite there being no dialog in the book he helped make the story clear and kept my attention throughout


  2. says:

    As a Peruvian I feel really sorry for what happened at that time It looks that I am a kind of witness when reading this bookThank you Mr Macuarrie I can picture each scene Also the books makes me reflect of how the Inca empire was affected deeply by this gang I believe it was because the empire was divided in many ways for power Spaniards were lucky finding a place like this Racism killing stealing lying were their heritage left among others Three centuries later it is interesting to see how the ambition of fame came with the explorer Gene Savoy who betrayed Vincent Lee's recent discovering of Vilcabamba ruins an architect who shared with him all what he found in the lost Inca City Again power ambition bitterness now related to the history of the Inca Empire It would be great if the book is translated in Spanish so many of my countrymen would be able to learn about our culture our ancestors


  3. says:

    The Last Days of the Incas is a terrifically readable history of the Spanish conuest of the Incas and Peru Whereas John Hemming's Conuest of the Incas is the definitive modern history Macuarrie brings to bear a narrative and engaging approachLast Days is historically thorough but Macuarrie writes many of the incidents of the conuest in a fictional style Often scenes are are ualified 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 than made up for by the narrative flowThe story of the conuest is well known Pizarro co swoop into Peru with only a handful of fully armed conuistadors 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 handsJohn Hemming is for the hardest core academic reading of the Incan conuest Macuarrie is faster and fiction like read Both are highly recommended


  4. says:

    This is a very well researched very well written history book about a period and culture I knew very little about the Spanish conuest of the Inca Empire in South America Though I would not go so far as to say it read like a novel certain parts did especially when the author was creating a “hook” to introduce the next series of events I understand he’s an Emmy award winning documentarian so he knows how to tell a story If the author ever decides to adapt this book into film the protagonist will be Manco Inca He was just a teenager when Francisco Pizarro and his crew arrived in what is now Peru and after treacherous dealings that ended in the execution of Manco’s older brother the ruling emperor the Spaniards appointed Manco successor thinking he would make a good puppet But their treachery continued and when Pizarro’s youngest brother made a demand that went way too far Manco Inca turned into a real ruler of his people leading an all out rebellion The Incas’ war against the Spaniards and the in fighting on both sides makes up the bulk of this book but it’s sandwiched in between the first and last chapters about the 20th century explorers and historians who discovered the Incan ruins Their story is not as brutal or violent but there’s plenty of underhandedness in it After all what was at stake for them was pretty much the same thing as what the conuistadors were after glory and fortune This is not a book that will renew your faith in humanity The conuistadors were absolutely hateful but the Incas weren’t “noble savages” either They were imperialists too having conuered much of the South American continent before the Spanish arrived And though the Incan emperors did not let their peasants starve it was still a feudalistic society where the peasants had to pay tribute and provide free labor Ironically Pizarro himself had been a peasant in Spain He left Europe to seek his fortune because he had nothing to loseOne of the early chapters of the book uotes Thucydides as saying “Conuer or be conuered” What I got out of this book is the converse all conuerors end up conuered themselves Nobody stays on top forever and if you become too arrogant while on top you end up inviting the rebellion that will ultimately lead to your downfall


  5. says:

    I read a fair amount of history but the ancient peoples of Central and South America are some of my blindspots This may not have been the best place to start since the book obviously deals with the end of the Incas but I did learn uite a few facts that have piued my interest in what led up to their demise as an empireSeems the Incas were actually conuerors themselves and made up a very small minority of the actual population They had defeated all the surrounding tribes and were considered the elite of the empire There was a battle for succession raging in the Incan empire just as the Spaniards arrivedtalk about bad timingThe Spaniards were led by Fransisco Pizzaro who hailed from an impoverished rural backward area of Western Spain called Extremadura Interesting fact about the area many of the great conuistadors came from this area Balboa Ponce de Leon De Soto and Cortes all came from this same general location Signing on to or organizing an expedition was one of the few ways to rise above your station and break free from the povertyOne of the most shocking aspects was the fact that the Spaniards were able to bring down the empire with such a small number of men 168 at the very beginning They had technological advantages cannon haruebusa smoothbore gun armor and horseswhich the Inca had never seen before but one would have assumed the sheer numbers of Inca several millionno true record of actual numbers would have been able to overcome the badly outnumbered invaders I guess between the awe inspiring technology and the just concluded civil war the Inca were put in an situation they just could not overcomeAt times fascinating and sickening this was a very readable history although in hindsight probably not the best place to start


  6. says:

    This is a fascinating epic 22 hours on audio history of the invasion of the Spanish conuistadors into the Andes in the early 16th century It's chilling to learn details of the conuest of the Incan empire The Spaniards led by the 5 Pizarro brothers initially came in minuscule numbers and were often outnumbered in their battles by factors of 10000 to 1 or But they slaughtered the natives with impunity rarely suffering casualties They had horses armor and steel innovations that made them almost impervious to the primitive weapons of the IncansThe ostensive motivation of the conuerors was to convert the pagans to Christianity But as the author describes slaughter dismemberment executions rape torture and other atrocities there's not much Christianity apparent The incredible greed for gold and silver is much obvious the plundering and melting down of almost every one of the precious cultural artifacts of a proud and ancient people is shameful along with the lust for power and possessions The utter arrogance of a supposedly civilized nation presuming to overrun and destroy the pagans in the name of Christ dumbfounds me And it's even pronounced because they didn't just destroy the people they destroyed the entire cultureI was enthralled by this book If I had read it during my college days I might have ended up as an archaeology or sociology major after all Now it just leaves me with an incredible desire to go explore the AndesWarning the last few hours of the book are given to ruminations of the 20th century archaeological analysis of the ruins of the civilizations and may not be as interesting to some


  7. says:

    After reading a library copy bought copies both for myself and gifts to others


  8. says:

    Awesome read I grew up hearing all kinds of things about Cortes conuering the Mexica or Aztecs The stories of Tenochtitlan and the fighting on its causeways were amazing But I really knew very little about Pizzaro and the Inca If the Mexica were basically a loose conglomeration of city states the Inca were a world class empire stretching for over a thousand miles down the Andes and even over the mountains into the rainforest As pure story the Spanish saga with the Inca makes that of the Mexica pale in comparison So Cortes kidnapped Montezuma and held him hostage and other than maybe one butt kicking basically had his way with the Mexica Pizzaro led off with Cortes' kidnapping method but the similarities end there The Inca went all out guerilla on the Spanish as led by a succession of brave and determined emperors The Inca finally refined a very successful method of ambushing Spanish ard convoys caught in deep defiles by way of large gravity operated boulders A seemingly infinite succession of Pizzaro brothers and Inca emperors going toe to toe made for a thrilling read And then the story got even interesting when civil war erupted as Spanish factions fought for control of what was left Simply insane Greed and lust for power aplenty I also really liked how the author spent a good bit of time dealing with the rediscovery of many of the ancient Inca sites through the stories of Hiram Bingham Victor von Hagen Gene Savoy and Vincent Lee Eually insane in its own right


  9. says:

    This is a very readable account of the conuest of the Incas by Francisco Pizarro and 167 of his conuistador buddies That number shocked me The Inca emperor Atahualpa had thousands of warriors at his command and Pizarro and his steel ard horse mounted men rode all over them That's just so incredibly wrong I have trouble grasping itMacuarrie does a great job of interweaving contemporary accounts with modern scholarship and brings the various individuals involved to life What struck me most was how there really were no good guys in this fight To the modern mind Pizarro had no business imposing European rule on another empire and that makes the Incas seem sympathetic particularly keeping that first number in mind But the Incas were just coming out of a nasty civil war and they were no kinder to each other or to the Spaniards they captured than the Spanish were to them This is probably not the nicest wish but I'd love to see an alternate history in which the Incas had military technology to take on the Spanish Though Atahualpa came to power because his predecessor apparently died of smallpox brought by the Europeans Peru remained remarkably free of that disease and had they been properly armed or had the Europeans not had horses that conflict would have gone very differentlyMy one complaint about the book is that Macuarrie in his uest to make the story come alive freuently makes informed guesses about things no one could know using phrases like certainly the Pizarro brothers would have embraced after being separated for years I got really tired of the words no doubt his favorite way to spice things upOverall it was both an enjoyable read and exactly what I needed for my new Extraordinaries book so I call it a win


  10. says:

    This topic represents another in a long list of things I know virtually nothing about I am generally skeptical of historical books that describe long ago events with the level of detail that is provided here It simply strains credibility in my view to re create conversations that took place in the Andean mountains centuries ago especially when the records from the time are virtually non existent The author seems particularly in tune with this skepticism as he ualifies his writing several times with a probably here and a likely there This is a little jarring in terms of the flow of the narrative but in the end lends a greater feel of authenticity at least to my way of thinking I really enjoyed the first 80% of this book which covers the time from Pizarro's landing on the northwest coast of South America to the death of Manco Inca Most strking to me was the military ineptitude of the Incas The Spaniards were able to handle and easily defeat hundreds of thousands enemy combatants and control millions of inhabitants with a few hundred men The author gives almost excusive credit for this accomplishment to the Spanish horses and to a lesser extent thier armor Over and over the badly outnumbered Spaniards clashed with the Incas and repeatedly slaughtered them without losing any soldiers in the process It was frustrating that the Incas never seemed to develop any learning or strategy to deal with the Spaniards' horses and cavalry You'd think they would have at least figured out that they could tie a string between two trees and trip them up as they rodeThe last part of the book deals with Bingham's expedition and his ultimate discovery of some of the Inca ruins Not nearly as interesting as the history of the conuest