Are you heading off on a trek in Peru soon? Here are some ‘must read’ books that will get you inspired (or scared) to pull on your boots and get out and discover! These are a little more specific than general Peru reads, but just perfect if you want in-depth knowledge of the Incas, and their empire and the people that recently have explored this fabled land.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu (by Mark Adams)
If you are looking for a laugh out loud, fun-filled book, then look no further! The author, Mark Adams quits his day job and takes us on an exciting trip, following the path that professor Hiram Bingham took to discover Machu Picchu many years ago. The history behind this story is researched exceptionally well, and the writing is done in such a way so that the reader feels themselves walking along the path with Adams while feeling the sun beating down on their backs. This book is not one to be missed!
Last Days of the Incasby Kim MacQuarrie
We recently re-read this book and loved it just as much as we did the first time. Though we assume it is historically correct, it is a wonderful read, just like a novel… full of intrigue, drama… and lots of blood and guts! Also, it provides a range of perspectives, from that of the Spanish and the Incas, as well as an understanding of the early political intrigues in Peru. This is a great book for people who will be making the journey to Cusco, and Machu Picchu, and especially those who have a history bent!
Lost City of the Incasby Hiram Bingham
A real life Indiana Jones...this is explorer Hiram Bingham’s highly readable account of his discovery of Machu Picchu in the Lost city of the Incas. It is a great rollicking tale, sometimes factually incorrect, but certainly sets the scene for your Machu Picchu visit. We highly recommend taking the time to check this book out!
The White Rock by Hugh Thomson
Hugh Thomson sets out as a young man, at the age of 22 to rediscover ruins that had previously been discovered but was lost again. This is a highly readable and thought-provoking novel, not to mention an excellent piece of travel history. It's a recommended travel companion as you will have the opportunity to learn about the history, geography, and culture of Inca, and Peru. This is my number one choice for pre-Andean adventure reading (in preference to the other Hugh Thomson books which focus on other areas of Peru).
Conversation in the Cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa
Anything that was written by once presidential Hopeful Mario Vargas Llosa gives you a fascinating fictional insight into Peru...This book contains text to help portray the portrait of power and politics in Peru under the dictatorship of General Manuel Odría in the 1950s.
A brief summary:
Santiago Zavala, a young journalist, bumps into Ambrosio Pardo, his wealthy father's former chauffeur, and they go to a rundown bar in Lima (the cathedral of the title) to talk about old times. Santiago is estranged from his family, rejecting their upper-middle-class values and his father Don Fermin's shady business dealings and rightwing politics. Ambrosio admires Don Fermin and served him well.
This book is written in the point of view of Santiago and Ambrosio. Please be warned that this book is long (about 600 pages) and the first few chapters are rather difficult to get through due to disturbing events, but if you stick it out it's worth the read!