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The Secret of the Incas [Paperback]

William Sullivan
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Feb 1998
In the tradition of Fingerprints of the Gods (Crown, 1995; 65,000 sold) and Stonehenge Decoded, this revolutionary new interpretation of the mythology of the Incas offers an astonishing "history of prehistory".

At its peak, the Inca empire was the largest on Earth. Yet in the year 1532, it was conquered by fewer than 200 Spanish adventurers. How could this happen? Approaching the answer clue by clue, William Sullivan decodes the myths of the Incas to reveal that they embody an astoundingly precise record of astronomical events.

In the 15th century, the Inca priest-astronomers read the sky and saw signs of an apocalypse. So the Incas took a desperate gamble: If events in the heavens could influence those on Earth, perhaps the reverse was true. In The Secret of the Incas, Sullivan shows that the Inca rituals of warfare and human sacrifice were nothing less than an attempt to stop time, to forestall the cataclysm that would sweep away their world. This is a work of rare erudition and imagination that will reshape our understanding of the past.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 426 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Publications; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (28 Feb 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517888513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517888513
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 15 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 736,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars William Sullivan decodes the myths of the Incas. 18 Mar 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Secrets of the Incas chronicles how Dr Sullivan first learned to decode ancient Andean myths. These myths - which were recorded by the Spanish at the time of their conquest of the Incas - are, according to Dr Sullivan, a 'message in a bottle' from the Incas to future generations. Dr Sullivan describes how he decoded the myths and how this led him to certain important dates in Andean prehistory and history. A glossary defines and explains various Andean mythological and historical terms, and a timeline shows what Dr Sullivan believes to be the correspondence between mythological, astronomical and archaeological events in the high Andes - how, in effect, what was happening in the heavens was mirrored by what was happening on Earth
On the evening of 15 November 1532, a band of 175 hardened Spanish adventurers crossed a pass in the high Andes. Looking down upon a broad, fertile valley in northern Peru, they became the first Europeans to make contact with the Incas,
whose highly developed empire stretched 3,000 miles from Chile to Colombia and had a population of six million. On the following day, in what ranks as one of the strangest events in all recorded history, the Spaniards managed to seize the Inca king Atahuallpa and, in the ensuing panic, used the advantage of their 120 warhorses to kill and wound 10,000 Inca warriors. From that day onward, through luck and guile, and with reinforcements soon pouring in from Panama, the Spaniards - who came in search of gold and glory, in the name of the Roman Catholic Church - never relinquished the edge they seized in that first fateful encounter.
What the Spaniards never knew, and what history does not record, was the reason for the apparently inexplicable collapse of the greatest land empire on the face of the Earth.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I gave this book 5 stars because it is a work of both genius and love, both being clearly evinced by the author. I can't pretend I 100% comprehended everything on 1st reading, but the implications of what has been uncovered are outstanding. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in kicking down the down the doors of perception.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only if you are into this stuff 30 July 2004
Format:Paperback
If you are not educated in mythology and the like, skip this book. I thought it would describe the history of the Inca Empire and mention some myth while doing so, but this book is MAINLY about the mythology itself. Only for experts in the field if you ask me, not for the general public...
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11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a book on incan history but on astronomy 8 Sep 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
When I bought this book I thought it was going to be on on Incan history. Instead it turns out to be a book about astronomy only using the Incas as an example which he uses to show his theories. I found it hard to understand his theories and where he draws his conclusions from. I would not recommend it for anyone simply wanting to learn more about the incas or for anyone who has not much previous experience with regard to astronomy. The book is however well researched.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Secret of the Incas : Myth, Astronomy, and the War Again 23 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
William Sullivan decodes the myths of the Incas.
Secrets of the Incas chronicles how Dr Sullivan first learned to decode ancient Andean myths. These myths - which were recorded by the Spanish at the time of their conquest of the Incas - are, according to Dr Sullivan, a 'message in a bottle' from the Incas to future generations. Dr Sullivan describes how he decoded the myths and how this led him to certain important dates in Andean prehistory and history. A glossary defines and explains various Andean mythological and historical terms, and a timeline shows what Dr Sullivan believes to be the correspondence between mythological, astronomical and archaeological events in the high Andes - how, in effect, what was happening in the heavens was mirrored by what was happening on Earth
On the evening of 15 November 1532, a band of 175 hardened Spanish adventurers crossed a pass in the high Andes. Looking down upon a broad, fertile valley in northern Peru, they became the first Europeans to make contact with the Incas, whose highly developed empire stretched 3,000 miles from Chile to Colombia and had a population of six million. On the following day, in what ranks as one of the strangest events in all recorded history, the Spaniards managed to seize the Inca king Atahuallpa and, in the ensuing panic, used the advantage of their 120 warhorses to kill and wound 10,000 Inca warriors. From that day onward, through luck and guile, and with reinforcements soon pouring in from Panama, the Spaniards - who came in search of gold and glory, in the name of the Roman Catholic Church - never relinquished the edge they seized in that first fateful encounter.
What the Spaniards never knew, and what history does not record, was the reason for the apparently inexplicable collapse of the greatest land empire on the face of the Earth.
Secrets of the Incas explores the baffling and tragic vulnerability of the Inca empire and comes to a startling conclusion: the Spanish had appeared at precisely the right place and at just the right time to fulfil an ancient, astronomically based prophecy of doom.
This conclusion is the result of two decades of research by American scholar Dr William Sullivan into the sophisticated astronomical knowledge of the Incas and how they encrypted this in their myths. Secrets of the Incas presents completely new evidence taken from an Inca myth. In this, Dr William Sullivan believes, lies the key to the basis of the old man's prophecy and, indeed, to the formation of the Inca empire itself. This myth is nothing less than a dire warning of an impending precessional event that, to the Incas, predicted future ruin.
The 'gate' or 'bridge' to the land of the ancestors - that is, the rising of the December solstice Sun with the Milky Way - was about to be washed away. Drawing on their ancient mythological database, the Incas reasoned - from the principle 'as above, so below' - that loss of contact with the ancestors, upon which their religious beliefs were founded, would mean their way of life would be destroyed on Earth.
It was this prophecy that stirred the first Inca emperor to action: if time was merciless, it had to be stopped. So the entire Inca empire, which was less than a century old when the Spanish arrived, became involved in an attempt at cosmic regulation - to change the course of the stars by changing the course of human history on Earth: 'as below, so above.'
William Sullivan decodes the myths of the Incas to reveal an astoundingly precise record of astronomical events. The Incas accepted their fate as written in the stars.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent argument for the astronomical basis of Andean myth 18 Jan 1998
By Interloper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Sullivan's book follows in the path of Santillana and Dechend's "Hamlet's Mill". That famous work set the foundations of a completely new paradigm in mythographical thinking: the astronomical interpretation of myth. What Sullivan presents here is a brilliant application of Santillana and Dechend's thesis to a specific geographical and historical context: the precolumbian Andean world (more specifically, the Tiahuanaco, Huari and Inca cultures). Part of the reason why Hamlet's Mill has not been accepted with general enthusiasm among the majority of mythographers, historians, and anthropologists may have been that book's style: a decorated, visionary prose which, while loaded with an impressive amount of references, perhaps lacked somewhat in academic rigor and scepticism. "The Secret of the Incas" does not fall in this mistake. With exemplary lucidity, irrefutable syllogisms, considering the pros and cons of each argument, Sullivan proves his points without the semblance of being biased. The argumentation of this book satisfies all academic standards right until the very last chapter. (In the last chapter the author loses his self-control and writes a great deal of nonsense from all fields of science from chaos theory to the Gaia hypothesis -but this can be pardoned in view of the previous chapters.)
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exploration of the "Hamlet's Mill" theories 4 Dec 2002
By Plaque - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
William Sullivan has presented me with one of the most convincing "alternate history" books I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
Building upon the theories first explored in the landmark "Hamlet's Mill" by De Santillana and von Dechend, Mr. Sullivan takes what little is known about the history of the Incas and the Andean peoples and helps those interested make sense of it all. Thankfully, "The Secret of the Incas" is written in a much more digestable manner than "Hamlet's Mill".
The Inca Empire peaked for a brief moment and was then crushed by the invading Spanish in a very short period of time. There have been many theories as to how the Spanish were able to conquer most of the South American continent in such a brisk stroke, one of which involves the natives mistaking the invaders for "gods". The facts presented by Sullivan point to an even more mind-boggling fate.
The Andean peoples (and the Incas who followed) were convinced that their fate was intertwined with the movements of the stars and planets. Astrology, as the Andean people interpreted it, was an unalterable fate, as impossible to deny as the need of air to breathe. These beliefs incorporated everything from their historical writings to their political attitudes towards their neighbors.
Mr. Sullivan has impressed me with his interpretations of Andean thought. His work is conservative and he checks and re-checks his conclusions well. I had a lot of fun reading his theories, although some sections seemed to drag a little. His ending thoughts on "how" the Andean people might have originally become so obsessed with astrological readings and their terrestrial consequences are not so great, and I skimmed the last chapter which dealt with "chaos theory" and the like. He's not the first author who's gone off on a tangent to conclude a theoretical book though; I'll just pretend I didn't read those sections, haha.
"The Secret of the Incas" is a concise, well-presented book and I would recommend it VERY highly to those searching for "alternative" history books that don't insult the reader.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly alternate history 12 Dec 2002
By Steve Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
While this work does not provide absolute or concrete evidence, it does contain enough documented information that a very small leap of faith in the thought process of the Andean populations present in pre-Columbian SA will convince you of the truth of Mr. Sullivan's meritous effort.
Numerous reviews refer to this as an alternate history work, however off hand there is nothing I remember about it necessarily contradicting accepted history. Mr. Sullivan provides diagrams and star charts (which I later verified w/my own software) to solidify his claims. His years of research paid off with a in my opinion a viable answer to one of history's most difficult-to-answer questions. A definate must buy if you are interested in archaeoastronomy or just an extremely interesting read.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enigma, explained 11 Jan 2000
By reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have admired the "Lords of the Andes" since I was young, and puzzled at how such a capable people could have been defeated by a few hundred european invaders. The explanation we got in school was that the Incas cowered before gunpowder, horses and steel. Sullivan's book presents a much more credible explanation for the Inca's collapse, and along the way shows us the tragic and touching humanity of perhaps the greatest pre-columbian culture.
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