Length: 333 pages
From Goodreads: What happens when an adventure travel expert-who’s never actually done anything adventurous-tries to re-create the original expedition to Machu Picchu?
“July 24, 1911, was a day for the history books. For on that rainy morning, the young Yale professor Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and encountered an ancient city in the clouds: the now famous citadel of Machu Picchu. Nearly a century later, news reports have recast the hero explorer as a villain who smuggled out priceless artifacts and stole credit for finding one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites.
Mark Adams has spent his career editing adventure and travel magazines, so his plan to investigate the allegations against Bingham by retracing the explorer’s perilous path to Machu Picchu isn’t completely far- fetched, even if it does require him to sleep in a tent for the first time. With a crusty, antisocial Australian survivalist and several Quechua-speaking, coca-chewing mule tenders as his guides, Adams takes readers through some of the most gorgeous and historic landscapes in Peru, from the ancient Inca capital of Cusco to the enigmatic ruins of Vitcos and Vilcabamba.
Along the way he finds a still-undiscovered country populated with brilliant and eccentric characters, as well as an answer to the question that has nagged scientists since Hiram Bingham’s time: Just what was Machu Picchu?”
Here’s What I Thought:
I’m embarrassed at how long it took me to finish this book, especially considering that I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s an interesting story, told in a dryly humerous tone that reminded me a lot of Bill Bryson and other British travel writers, although Adams is American. Adams interweaves the story of his own adventures in Peru with those of Hiram Bingham, the American academic and explorer who “re-discovered” (for the Western world, at least) the lost city of Machu Picchu. There’s a lot of Incan history in the book as well, and while I’m a bit of a history buff and found it very interesting, I tended to lose track of who was who and where was where (there are lots of people and place names thrown around). I discovered a glossary at the end of the book that would have probably been helpful if I had seen it while actually reading the book, but as it was an e-book galley, I didn’t know it was there. I have a feeling the actual print copy probably has maps and photos, too, which would have helped and added to my reading experience.
If you like light travel adventure stories and have an interest in South American history, this book is for you. Recommended with the caveat that you should probably read the print version and benefit from all the “extras”.
Thanks so much to NetGalley for providing me with a review copy of this book.
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