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The Conquest of the Incas

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  515 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
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, or the Pacific Ocean. Six years later the Spaniards had established the town of Panama as a base from which to explore and exploit this unknown sea. It was the threshold of a vast expansion.

The Conquest of the Incas, John Hemming's ma
Paperback, 624 pages
Published August 4th 2003 by Mariner Books (first published 1970)
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Oct 08, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, peru
Just about everyone knows about how Francisco Pizarro, the illiterate conquistador, captured the Inca Atahualpa, demanded a king's ransom in gold and silver, and put his prisoner to death anyway.

But that is only the beginning of the tale. The Incas rebelled under Manco Inca and retreated to Vilcabamba, from which they ran a truncated version of their society until they were finally defeated by the Spanish decades later.

John Hemming tells the whole story in Conquest of the Incas, from both the
Jul 18, 2013 Richard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
"Conquest of the Incas" is certainly one of the finest--perhaps the finest--large-scale Historical study I have ever read. It has a remarkable precision of detail, depth of analysis, and epic scope that make it difficult to put down. And always we see the human element--the odd combination of religiosity and hideous greed of the conquistadors, the equally strange mixture of contempt for the Indians and a willingness to exploit them as well as a paternalistic concern for their welfare in Viceroy ...more
If like me you only had an approximate idea of what the Spanish conquest of what is modern Peru meant for the local population, this book will shock you. The extent of the harassment and exploitation to which refined, modern Spaniards subjected the Indios surpasses imagination, especially as it is coupled with a hefty amount of hypocrisy: religious committees and even the Pope giving their blessing to what turned out to be mistreatment and downright abuse of the locals as well as pillaging of th ...more
Feb 10, 2013 Bruno rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As Peruvian it was painful to read this episode in the history of my country. Specially since I am familiar with all the places mentioned in the book. As a reader I think this is a superb piece of work. Read it
Linda Harkins
Jul 06, 2014 Linda Harkins rated it it was amazing
Detailed, thorough, rigorously researched, and extraordinary, this is the BEST book I've read about the Incas. How difficult it is to imagine what drove Francisco Pizarro except a quest for fame! The illegitimate son of a military officer, Pizarro was born in a barren area called Extremadura, about 140 miles from Madrid. Interestingly, this area is known as "the cradle of most of the leading conquistadores." Males born into poor circumstances in fifteenth-century Spain had the choice of marrying ...more
Jan 14, 2016 Marc rated it it was amazing
Bought an old version on Amazon for About $2. When I got it I saw how old it looked and set it aside for a year (thinking I would never be interested). I picked it up before I trip to Peru and was very surprised and how concise and well told the story is. It's a great story with good academic credentials, written in 1970 when a lot of the myths of the Inca's (Machu Pichu erroneously being confused as the last holdout of the Inca's, which it wasn't) still abounded.

Highly recommend for people int
Feb 15, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this shortly after visiting Peru and more than anything it made me want to return to explore the country more as well as the rest of South America. The detailed account of the Spanish conquest of the Incas leaves nary a stone unturned in capturing the sequence of events that resulted in the invaders emerging as victors and stamping their mark on the face of the country. It was more complex than I imagined; I guess history always is. It is easy to picture the Conquistadors galloping throug ...more
Mike Harmon
Mar 22, 2014 Mike Harmon rated it it was amazing
Two weeks till the Harmon Siblings travel to Peru - read up and ready.

A thorough account of the conquest of the Peruvian Inca Empire by the Spanish Pizzaro brothers. Poor Incas - a typical battle with the Spanish Conquistadors would read something like: 150 Conquistadors went to fight the Incas. Eleven Spaniards were injured, one Spaniard and two horses were killed...3,000 Incas perished. I can't imagine how the Inca felt - one day a vastly superior alien race just shows up and all that you know
Nov 02, 2011 Brian rated it it was amazing
The Incas and the conquest of Peru are two of the most interesting stories in Latin American history. This book captures the whole of that story and in wonderful detail relates the invasion of Pizzaro and the fall of the Incas. From Manco Inca to Tuti Cosi the Inca rebellions raged against Spanish occupation and eventually resulted in the free Inca state of Villacamba. In the end this state was doomed to fall to Spanish greed but the attempts at the Incas to preserve sovereignty is impressive. T ...more
Adriaan Jansen
Jun 06, 2015 Adriaan Jansen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
An amazing book. Although it was written 44 years ago, John Hemming's ''The conquest of the Incas'' is still the definitive account of the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 16th century. The story of the conquest is both astonishing and horrible, and Hemming tells it well.

The conquest of the Incas was a first-contact clash of civilizations. The Incas and Spaniards didn't know each other when their first real encounter in Cajamarca in November 1532 almost immediately sealed the fate of the Incas.
Tony Buman
Apr 20, 2013 Tony Buman rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
As I worked through the book, I wrestled with what to rate it. It does an incredible job of telling the story of the conquest of the Incan Empire, a subject I knew nothing about. The detail the author goes into is amazing. He is obviously very knowledgeable and passionate about the topic. At times, I was enthralled and couldn't put the book down. There were other points where I struggled, and when I was wading through the chapter about some of the experimental governments the Spanish tried, I al ...more
May 14, 2013 Randal rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A thorough, scholarly look at the history and causes of the collapse of the Incas.
Hemming does a good job of portraying the laudable and the baser motives of both sides in the conflict. I appreciated the fact that he did not fall into the PC trap of -- dare I say brownwashing? -- the indigenous people of the Andes.
Certainly the world would be better off had the conquistadors recorded and preserved the Incan culture, but the Incans were themselves recent conquerors of much of their empire when th
Jul 15, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it
Well-researched and detailed account of the Spanish conquest of the Incas and their demise at the hands of the Spanish. Hemming pulls from original sources to tell the story of Pizarro and the conquistadors search for gold and the confiscatory transfer of valuable Inca religous object made from gold and silver back to the Spanish king to convince him to permit the Christian conversion of the Inca and the further exploration of Peru and Equador. The Inca were not only vulnerable to the avaricious ...more
Apr 10, 2014 Claire rated it it was amazing
An excellent and engrossing history. The author has some biases, mostly in favor of the Incas who resisted Spanish conquest most vigorously, but this is pretty understandable given the disgraceful, greedy behavior of the Spaniards. The Incas were not necessarily saints, but they had a well-ordered society, which the Spaniards cheerfully destroyed.
David Becker
Jun 17, 2014 David Becker rated it really liked it
A well-told narrative, and corrected many erroneous assumptions about the Pizarro conquest. It was horses, not guns, that gave the conquistadores such an advantage. That and internal disarray within the Inca government/military, which was much better at amassing an empire than maintaining it. Useful historical lessons to be derived.
Apr 12, 2016 emydeeg rated it really liked it
People tend to assume sometimes that if someone has a particularly affinity for travelling in Peru that they are interested in the history of the Incas—since it's what first comes to mind when anyone thinks of Peru, mainly because of Machu Picchu. In fact, I liked Peru for a whole lot of other reasons and was in fact a bit of a philistine when it came to the Incas. I'd visited Machu Picchu before ever reading this, and had appreciated it mostly for its physical beauty. This book changed my persp ...more
Christian Layow
Feb 02, 2011 Christian Layow rated it really liked it
I just read this. I was actually reading another book at the time and heard of this from an article or documentary. I was inspired to write a song about the Spanish invasion of the Peruvian empire. I had read a book a couple years ago about Hernando de Soto and his explorations into North America. It covered his career in the Peruvian conquests, which had made him famous in Spain for his daring exploits. But the book did not cover the whole Incan period of that conquest nearly enough. This book ...more
Feb 14, 2014 James rated it really liked it
The heartbreaking story of the end of a civilization. Rape, pillage and plunder abound as greed wins the day. Well documented and well told, though a little tedious in places with the telling of detailed campaigns. The last chapter brings the story to the modern day with the discovery of Machu Picchu, and the settling on the location of Vilcabamba.
Sep 18, 2012 Galicius rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I decided to read this after a rather sudden and unprepared trip to Peru where I followed some of the trails of the Incas, starting in Lima, then staying a few days in Cusco, visiting Machu Picchu, Sacsahuaman, then continued by train to Puno, Lake Titicaca, and on to Arequipa, saw the Nazca lines, and returned to Lima. I should have read the book before I left. The sights, museums, what I saw would have told me more.
Dec 19, 2013 Hayden rated it really liked it
Hemming offers a definitive history on the Spanish Conquest. The first 100 pages chronicle the almost unbelievable story of Francisco Pizarro's capture of Atihualpa, which facilitated the fall of the entire Incan empire. Even if you have no interest in delving into the rest of the history (which is well worth the effort by the way), those first chapters are a must-read.
Sinta Jimenez
Jun 25, 2013 Sinta Jimenez rated it it was amazing
Read this book while traveling for several weeks in Peru. It was captivating and is thoroughly backed with original documentation including correspondence of conquistadors, journal entries of friars, etc. The Spanish theory of conquest is fully explored and how the nature of conquest has impacted modern power in Peru.
Apr 27, 2015 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Excellent complete history of the conquest. He starts with Pizarro's ambush of the Inca and goes from there. It is well-written and compelling. A must pre-read for anyone going to Machu Picchu.
Aug 03, 2013 Patricia rated it really liked it
It gives a good history from the Spanish explorers into the Inca empire and all the facts are easy to follow and a pleasure to read.
I travelled a bit in the area and now after reading the book all the ruins and historical buildings came to live.
May 17, 2016 Emily rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Emily by: Ronald Wright
Shelves: nonfiction, occupy
A sweeping history of Spanish colonizers' folly and greed, emphasizing the flawed historiography of the period and the inadequacy of the "Great Man" historical style to tell this kind of story.
Oct 07, 2011 Debby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reads sometimes like a textbook but eventually answers almost every question you can ask about why the few Spanish were able to overtake the Inca empire. Fascinating and heartbreaking.
Jan 07, 2009 David rated it liked it
bloody and detailed tale of the demise of the incan empire. much cooler for me than might be for others, because i was in the places the book was describing when i read it.
Mar 13, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many details! It's a long book, but very interesting. It gives the reader an insight into the Spanish conquest of Peru, including all the battles, fights, and injustices.
Jul 19, 2012 Norman rated it it was amazing
Again history told as a fabulous story. Reads like a fantasy novel with a plot full of heroes and villains making the story all the more incredible as it's true.
Oct 03, 2009 Anya marked it as to-read
Started reading this in Peru, and it's fascinating. Especially fun to read while wandering through the places where the battles took place.
May 15, 2014 Brett rated it liked it
Great historical read. Little slow through the middle but a good choice for anybody who wants to learn about the European conquest of Peru.
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Goodreads Librari...: Correct number of pages 9 28 Mar 17, 2013 03:28PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please combine these editions 2 18 Mar 17, 2013 06:48AM  
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Dr John Hemming, CMG is one of the world's experts on Brazilian Indians, the Amazon environment, the Incas, Peruvian archaeology, The Royal Geographical Society, and the history of exploration generally. He is also Chairman of Hemming Group Ltd., a company that publishes trade magazines and organises trade exhibitions and conferences.

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