Felicity's Reviews > The White Rock: an exploration of the Inca heartland

The White Rock by Hugh Thomson
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's review
Oct 07, 08

bookshelves: nonfiction, history, memoir, south-america
Recommended to Felicity by: Powell's sale table
Read in October, 2008, read count: 1

A well-crafted hybrid of memoir, travel book and history. It begins with Thomson's quixotic decision as a 21-year-old, untrained, to go to Peru and re-find an Inca ruin that had been discovered, then lost again. In the decades since, he's become a more seasoned explorer and a documentary filmmaker, and his love for the mountainous areas of Peru is a constant.

Interwoven with his descriptions of the beautiful, punishing terrain and the abandoned complexes of the Inca are anecdotes of the bizarre characters that have explored the area, the relationship between people of the mountains and of the jungle, the demands of outsiders' tourism and spirituality on the Inca's image, and the often forgotten history of the Inca's last stand. The sites he explores are part of their "rump kingdom", the Vilcabamba, from which they held off the Spanish for decades with guerrilla tactics and cagey diplomacy. While unlike the reviewer from The New York Times Book Review, I am content to remain an 'armchair traveler' and leave these treks to Thomson, I am inspired to read further on the fascinating history of the Inca.

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Reading Progress

10/05/2008 page 203
64.24% "I was reading this when I started grad school -- hope I still recall enough about Incas and Peru to finish!"
10/05/2008 page 245
77.53% "I'm admiring the wiliness of the last Incas, such as Titu Cusi, who maintained a remote rump kingdom for decades after the Spanish invasion."
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