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The Conquest of the Incas

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  875 ratings  ·  71 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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E. G.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
List of Illustrations

--The Conquest of the Incas

Tables of Measurements and Values
Notes and References
Oct 08, 2014 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 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, history
"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 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
Feb 15, 2013 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
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, history
A truly well-researched and balanced look at the Spanish conquest of Peru that treated the conquered Incas as a noble people and shined a light on both the atrocities and few glimmers of goodness from the Spaniards.

Hemming's account explored the best theories of pre-conquest time through the final vestiges of Incan family lines. It was a surprisingly easy to read (though not fast) despite all of the accounts and literature he must have combed through. His accounts of the various leaders that tr
Zoltán Kelemen
This is a massive work of history, accurate as I can guess it and as history will ever be (i.e. never count on it, it's always a point of view)

I liked it a lot, especially reading it prior to my Peruvian holiday it was a great read.

Only it's sheer size and detail proved to be a burden as it became impossible of tracing every person, place and story throughout with the book covering such a long time-frame and such tumultuous times.
Zachary Rudolph
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
“'We assume that Your Majesty has not been informed of this, since you have not ordered that it be remedied. For it is so contrary to divine and natural law that free men should be forced and compelled to such excessive labour, so prejudicial to their health and lives.'”

Margaret Crampton
This is an extremely well researched book and should be read by any visitor to Peru. It tells of the tragic demise of the amazing Inca civilization at the hands of the Spanish Conquistadors. In the 16th Century: The cruelty the deception, the bravery and violence and the looting and destruction of priceless gold and silver works of art, and the huge loss of the Inca kings and their Empire. Interesting are the final chapters detailing the searches in the 20th Century to discover explain and map t ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
The Conquest of the Incas makes for rather grim reading, even more so than the conquest of Mexico. If any event contributed to the Leyenda Negra it was this, owing to its chaotic nature and opportunities for low level roguery, as well as the institutionalized cruelty that was an inevitable consequence of the rich silver mines in the area, given Spain's ambitions and economy at the time which entirely overrode the concerns raised by its humanist intellectuals. It's the story of a people's hopeles ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a devastating, comprehensive, and well-researched history of the Spanish Conquest in Peru. Hemming is authoritative in his details and unflinching in his descriptions of the acts by the Spanish and Incas that caused much conflict, death, and destruction beginning in 1532 with Pizarro’s capture of Atahualpa Inca. Over the next 40 or so years, the Spanish systematically destroyed the Inca while the Incas attempted various methods of resistance, surrender, or negotiations. An important read ...more
Linda Harkins
Jul 06, 2014 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
Nov 02, 2011 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
Mike Harmon
Feb 14, 2014 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
Jan 14, 2016 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
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic and all encompassing account of the Incas from the beginning of Spanish conquest until the conquest was complete and no longer in doubt in any form. I cannot recommend this book enough, it was well written and although it was quite academic it was highly readable.

I think this is a book I will find myself coming back to in future years. It was immensely interesting and makes me excited to explore new areas that this book inspired.
Andy Todd
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-read
History writing at its best: an author who clearly engages with his subject on many levels and releases a stream of intriguing facts embedded in limpid prose; nearly 50 years old and not bettered in its field, nor,more generally, as accessible writing for the generalist audience. A beautifully made book too, gorgeous typeface, lovely binding.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Hawking recently said something along the lines that if aliens were to invade us they wouldn't be friendly, they would be more like the Europeans who came to the new world. When he said that he must have been thinking about the Spanish Conquistadors and their brutal invasion of Peru. This book gives a detailed, shocking account of not only how the Spanish conquered the Incas - despite being vastly outnumbered - but also the brutality and greed that came after. The conquistadors may have ...more
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a pretty good overview for people who know virtually nothing about the Inca Empire and how it was conquered by the Spanish conquistadors under Francisco Pizarro. It spans the entire 40 years between the Spaniards first contact with the Incas and the destruction of the independent state of Vilcabamba, where the last Inca, Manco, fled after a failed insurrection against the Spanish. During that period there was fighting between Spanish and Inca forces, but also internal struggles between I ...more
Tom Hill
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
We had just come back from a tour of Peru and wanted to read this book that was recommended by our guide. In retrospect, I should of read it before our trip, as it would of made the sites we visited even more interesting. As for the book, the writing style is more relevant to a college lecture hall rather than an example of good story telling. It gives you all the pertinent facts but, in many sections, resembles a mind dump rather than an ordered sequence of information. I did find myself skimmi ...more
Cormac Healy
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent book on the history of the inca and their conquest by the Spanish in the 16th century.

As someone who went in with very little knowledge of the events I never felt out of my depth which was great, and enjoyed the author's own personal recollections of exploring ruins in the Amazon.

My only complaint is that I felt there could have been more background on some of the conquistadors, but apart from that the amount of detail was good.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
A very scholarly book about the Spanish conquest of Peru. It details the activities of Pizarro and his generals on their march through the Inca lands, the capture of the Inca and subsequent activities as they subdued the entire population in a short time. The plethora of details make for slow going, but the book gives an excellent picture of what took place and is based on written accounts by the Spanish involved as well as Inca records of the time.
David Frazer
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredible. This book is so well written and covers such a fascinating topic that I could not put it down. The story of the conquest of the Incas is truly unbelievable and reads like something out of Lord of the Rings. Hemming does a fantastic job of making the history read like a fantasy novel, with exquisite detail weaved throughout. I would highly recommend even if you are not studying the period. This is history that every student of history should study.
Michael Brawn
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Machu Picchu, A Wonder Between the Clouds

Machu Picchu, "The Lost City of the Incas" and one of the current seven wonders of the World is located 130 kilometers northwest of Cusco, in the Urubamba province, at the top of a mountain of the same name and surrounded by an abyss of slightly over 400 meters that forms the Urubamba River' canyon.
Robert Bear
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Read

If you really want to know about the conquests of Peru, read this book. It undoubtedly will contain much more than any one person can absorb. However, the manner in which the history us told is fascinating.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: americas
Read many source books about the conquest, but Hemming has packed all them up in this book. I studied in Peru at high school, and at that time peruvian school books hid many aspects of the conquest, but again Hemming debunks all.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very comprehensive and clear. Well researched. Too much detail and tracking of family trees to be a fun read. Maps are near impossible to read.
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A “first contact” clashing of power and religion. Despite cultures that are worlds apart, the similarities are just as striking as the differences.
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A necessary, deep analysis of the relationship between the Spanish and the Incas.
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Goodreads Librari...: Correct number of pages 9 30 Mar 17, 2013 03:28PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please combine these editions 2 19 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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