Jason Golomb's Reviews > The Last Days of the Incas

The Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie
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's review
Jan 28, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: history, peru, incas, south-america, non-fiction, archaeology, reread-worthy
Read 2 times. Last read May 18, 2017 to June 4, 2017.

The Last Days of the Incas is a terrifically readable history of the Spanish conquest of the Incas and Peru. Whereas John Hemming's Conquest of the Incas is the definitive modern history, MacQuarrie brings to bear a more narrative and engaging approach.

Last Days is historically thorough, but MacQuarrie writes many of the incidents of the conquest in a more fictional style. Often scenes are are qualified 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 more than made up for by the narrative flow.

The story of the conquest is well-known: Pizarro & co. swoop into Peru with only a handful of fully armed conquistadors 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 hands.

John Hemming is for the hardest core academic reading of the Incan conquest. MacQuarrie is faster and more fiction-like read. Both are highly recommended.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 2007 – Finished Reading
January 28, 2010 – Shelved
September 20, 2011 – Shelved as: history
September 20, 2011 – Shelved as: peru
September 20, 2011 – Shelved as: incas
September 20, 2011 – Shelved as: south-america
September 20, 2011 – Shelved as: non-fiction
August 28, 2012 – Shelved as: archaeology
January 5, 2015 – Shelved as: reread-worthy
May 18, 2017 – Started Reading
June 4, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Scott Archer I was wondering how this book compared to John Hemming's book, which I have not yet read. Thanks for the insight.

Jason Golomb Scott - Hemming is THE standard history of the Spanish and Inca. It's very erudite, detailed and thoroughly researched. It's a good read, but standard history.

"Last Days" reads more like a story. It's all true, but reads more novel-like. It's a bit more speculative, but, to me, not factually incorrect...just written with a bit more flourish.

I recommend you read them both. :-) In fact, Hemming's was just released as an ebook.

Scott Archer Thanks. I recently read Last Days of the Incas and Lost City of Z, so I was looking for more on the subject.

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