A Brief History of Peru by Fernando RojasOne of the benefits and joys for me of traveling to different locations is learning more about world we live in, and the history and cultures of the places and people we encounter when traveling. I try to learn more before and during a trip, about a place and its history.
Recently we visited Peru, with the goal of seeing Machu Picchu. We fortunately took our time getting there and getting back, thus seeing and experiencing more than the spectacular scenery of the Inca ruins. Regarding Machu Picchu I had already read the excellent book by Mark Adams, “Turn Right at Machu Picchu” (which you can find in many book stores and airports in Peru). When visiting the first bookstore (in Lima), in search of a “mystery” by any Peruvian author, I came across the current book, A Brief History of Peru.
Let me start with its strengths: It is a very clever idea of compiling content from different sources to give an overview of the country. The source materials seem to be solid. The structure of the book is also very good, based on five parts (and several sections in each part)
• First: An overview of the geography and cultures pre-Inca
• Second: The Inca history, myth, society, commerce
• Third: The conquest by the Spanish (1532), focusing a great deal on Francisco Pizzaro
• Fourth: Colonial Rule (until about 1820)
• Fifth: Independence to present (until about 2007) [This section consumes about half of the book]
For me, there were several interesting aspects (components) of the book: I gained an understanding of the Inca society and how it worked, and in many ways how there was plenty of food for all; and that the Inca civilization had adopted many of the strengths and beliefs of earlier civilizations (building, the belief system of bird, puma and snake to represent heaven earth and the underworld); the portrayal of Francisco Pizzaro was quiet sympathetic (I was surprised); and long story of 20th century politics, and in particular of one figure, Raúl Haya de la Torre, who emerged early (1920), helped found a key political party in Peru (American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA)) and only at the end was able to secure an election (1979) as president of the constitutional assembly, and signed on his death bed a new constitution. The book also talks about the oscillation between civilian and military rule, and about the oligarchy obstructing the progress of modernization (and engagement of the greater population). The book also covered the Shining Path movement and Alberto Fujimori presidency. It seems that persistence in Peruvian politics can pay off (note above Haya de la Torre, and also Alan Garcia Pérez (president twice) ….
First, there is some poor editing of facts (see page 157, where Napoleon invades Spain in 1880 – it was 1808).
Second, there are places where the translation could be improved (see page 243, next to last sentence of the paragraph).
Finally, there are places where some names are mentioned without context.
The first and third of these issues makes on pause about what one can believe about the facts conveyed in the book.
However, overall, I believe that this is a worthwhile read, given it gives a glimpse mostly into leadership of Peru over many centuries, into challenges that continue to face Peru, and of course, into its rich history.
My rating would be 3.5 if I could give it, but will give 4 stars.
Brief history of Peru
Peru officially referred to as the Republic of Peru is a nation located in western South America. Colombia and Ecuador border Peru to the north. It is bordered by Brazil to the East, to the southwest by Bolivia , Chile to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The history of this beautiful country goes way back to a number of millennia and has gone through a number of phases of cultural development in the coastal desert and the mountain areas. Its history began over 20, years ago when the first settlers arrived in the country. It is believed that they came from the north through the isthmus of Panama searching for new lands. These were hunter- gatherers as indicated by the cave drawings at Toquepala.
Even though the complete history is difficult to explain in one blog, here is a brief summary of some of the main events in the history of Peru. It is thought that 20, years ago, groups of people made their way across the Bering Strait to the Americas, surviving as nomadic hunters and gatherers. Over the years the nomadic lifestyle changed to one of cultivation. Crops such as corn, potatoes and cotton were grown and llamas and alpacas began to be domesticated. The ruins of Caral, dating back to 3, B.
In the South Americas the area now known as Peru was deeply affected by the imperial nature of colonialism because the targeted people and resources became the pawns of the Spanish monarch during the early 15th century. Thus it became to be the perfect grounds on which the Inca Empire could thrive. The Spanish first arrived on Peruvian soil in , led by Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish conquistador who also led the invasion against the Inca Empire. Tupac Amaru was the last official emperor of the Inca Empire and was executed in after being accused of raising an army to resist the colonial forces. This year is also known as the year when the Inca Empire fell and the year when the Viceroyalty of Peru was created. In the 16th century, viceroyalty was the main governing body of the Spanish speaking South America. Since the frequency of contact with Madrid did not allow for the Spanish to control live in the Viceroyalty, it enjoyed great level of autonomy on local level.
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From as far back as civilizations that predate the Inca Empire to events in the more recent centuries, the timeline of the history of Peru shines as a colorful one., Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
By about 2, BC people in what is now Peru began farming. By about 1, BC they were making pottery. The first South American civilization was the Chavin. It arose in what is now Peru in about BC. The Chavin did not invent writing but they were skilled architects, stonemasons, potters, and goldsmiths. They built in both brick and stone and their engineers were capable of building both dams and reservoirs. Chavin farmers irrigated their land and they grew maize their staple food , squashes and beans.