The Last Days of the Incas, by Kim MacQuarrie
Source (where I found out about it): Search for “Inca History” on Amazon
Kindle price: $13.99
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 29, 2007)
Author website: Kim MacQuarrie
This is the best book I have ever read about the history of the Incas. Even better, it was masterfully done by MacQuarrie. It tells a well-documented tale about the real world for both the conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro, who invaded the South American land of the Incas nearly five hundred years ago, and of the native culture, armies, and politics — all led by the Inca emperor, Atahualpa — that preceded the conquistadors and that illuminated the behavior of the Inca.
It’s a compelling story. A few men appear in a land of a relatively advanced culture numbering in the millions. Yet the conquistadors take them as easily as Cortes took down the Aztecs in Mexico a few years before.
Why? What is it about a bunch of guys with horses, steel swords and armor, and guns that puts such fear into the Incas?
It’s complicated. And MacQuarrie gives it justice, creating fully realized characters out of the main conquistadors and Incas alike.
My only quibble with the books is that it spends too much time on Hiram Bingham, the discoverer of Machu Picchu. Granted, he set off a new phase of exploration and research into the Incas, but his discovery seems incidental to the primary story — that of the Last Days of the Incas.