Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie

Last Days of the Incas
Kim MacQuarrie

It is serendipitous that this book came out within a few months of my trip to South America. A history book that reads like a novel, it provided much needed context for what I’d seen. It begins and ends with Machu Picchu, from about 1400 to the present. The story really starts with Francisco Pizarro’s “discovery” of the Incas, and kidnapping of the emperor Atahualpa. The author makes the important point that the Conquistadors were not military men, but “entrepreneurs with swords.” They took over Cusco (the “navel” of the Inca world) and Saxawaman. They informed their captives of The Requirement that concludes by blaming the victims if they get hurt, “the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault.” Many pages are devoted to the rebel Manco Inca and his progressive movement to Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and beyond in an attempt to evade the Spaniards. The book concludes with a summary of recent discoveries, intrigues and fraud.

Machu Picchu 2007

I’ve recently returned from a trip to Bolivia and Peru that culminated with a visit to Machu Picchu. The “Lost City of the Incas” was never really lost. This is where Pachacuti and other Inca aristocracy came to relax back in the late 1400s CE. Surrounded on three sides by the Urubamba River, the view is truly spectacular with countless peaks receding into the sky. The site itself is dominated by Huayna Picchu, which rises a thousand feet and has ruins on top. The terraced agricultural district supplied food. The urban district provided accommodations for several hundred inhabitants, including a series of sixteen fountainsroyal apartments and several religious areas (2) (3). The Inca even fashioned image rocks as a special tribute to certain sacred peaks.