This important work in Latin American history performs two essential services: it brings to bear on a fascinating but hazy subject the full resources of archaeology, ethnology, and critical analysis of texts; and it brings the story of growth, destruction, and exploitation up to the present.
Professor Metraux lets us see the Inca empire for what it was: not Eldorado,the golden kingdom of Pizarro's conquistadors and the Spanish chroniclers, who were themselves captured by a mythic image of the empire, but the brief culmination of a process of development extending back into prehistory,and still traceable in the lives of the Indians of contemporary Bolivia and Peru.
The author presents the Spanish conquest and the modern mestizo states as only an interlude between ancient and future Indian dominion. He describes the precursor cultures of Mochia and Chimu, and the social, political, and religious structures of the Incas, their daily life, their art and their titanic architecture. He gives a vivid account of the brutal three hours in which "the power of the most powerful state of pre-Colombian America was broken forever," and of the devistation of the native leaders,social organization, and culture.
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