The Last Days of the Incas

  • by Kim MacQuarrie
  • Narrated by Norman Dietz
  • 21 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In 1532, the 54-year-old Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro led a force of 167 men, including his four brothers, to the shores of Peru. Unbeknownst to the Spaniards, the Inca rulers of Peru had just fought a bloody civil war in which the emperor Atahualpa had defeated his brother, Huascar. Pizarro and his men soon clashed with Atahualpa and a huge force of Inca warriors at the Battle of Cajamarca. Despite being outnumbered by more than 200 to one, the Spaniards prevailed - due largely to their horses, their steel armor and swords, and their tactic of surprise. They captured and imprisoned Atahualpa. Although the Inca emperor paid an enormous ransom in gold, the Spaniards executed him anyway. The following year, the Spaniards seized the Inca capital of Cuzco, completing their conquest of the largest native empire the New World has ever known. Peru was now a Spanish colony, and the conquistadors were wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. But the Incas did not submit willingly. A young Inca emperor, the brother of Atahualpa, soon led a massive rebellion against the Spaniards, inflicting heavy casualties and nearly wiping out the conquerors. Eventually, however, Pizarro and his men forced the emperor to abandon the Andes and flee to the Amazon. There, he established a hidden capital, called Vilcabamba. Although the Incas fought a deadly, 36-year-long guerrilla war, the Spanish ultimately captured the last Inca emperor and vanquished the native resistance. Kim MacQuarrie lived in Peru for five years and became fascinated by the Incas and the history of the Spanish conquest. Drawing on both native and Spanish chronicles, he vividly describes the dramatic story of the conquest, with all its savagery and suspense.


What the Critics Say

"Vivid and energetic....Riveting." (Publishers Weekly)
"A first-rate reference work of ambitious scope that will most likely stand as the definitive account of these people." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting but problematic

This book's is a tour de force of creative and evocative historical writing. The author has done an excellent job of making the subject and characters come alive in an interesting and informative way. However, one cannot but suspect that this was done at the expense of playing fast and loose with the historical record and by being academically sloppy.

This is best demonstrated by the author’s chronic overuse of the term "undoubtedly". The author wants to tell a rousing narrative including the minute actions and feelings of the principal players but is stymied by the lack of historical evidence. The solution seems to have been to add the word "undoubtedly" to all of these wonderful descriptions for which there is no historical evidence. This is both academically sloppy and rather annoying. It makes one doubt whether the facts presented in the book are indeed facts or just supposition and guesswork. Even the best historians need to use some amount of imagination to make a scene come alive but any decent historian knows to make it crystal clear when they are doing so.

So, if you want a highly “readable” overview of the Spanish conquest of Peru, this is an excellent book. However, the flaws make is decidedly less than credible and may be both frustrating and problematic to the serious reader or historian. As an important Caveat: I only have experienced the audio book. It is highly likely that there were explanatory footnotes for the questionable statements showing the author’s sources and rational.
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- Matthew

Quit while you are ahead

The story of the Conquistadors and the Incas is pretty compelling stuff. One begins by wishing a plague on both their houses and finishes with an enduring revulsion for Spanish duplicity, brutality and, above all, greed. So the material is very powerful.
The writing, on the other hand, is plodding and distressingly repetitious. The strength of the book is that it includes all the interesting details which can make an historical account come alive; the weakness of the book is that the details are recounted like a grocery list. And lest we come home without the milk or the beansprouts, they are usually reiterated a few times.
Worst of all, the final few hours of the book are devoted to the modern history of the discovery of Incan ruins. Unlike the original narrative, the material here is deadly dull, and it is just as poorly presented. I never quite made it to the end.
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- David "Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-17-2007
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio