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4.6 out of 5 stars16
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 21 March 2013
Having traveled To Peru, I was looking for a book that would give me insight into the Inca civilisation. Whilst I cannot deny that Hugh Thompson is a talented writer his drone and lack of insight makes for a slightly non emotive read... Hugh Thomson seems to skirt around the Inca cosmology altogether almost too afraid to look for fear of not finding answers! And Constantly reiterates the fact that Machu Pichu along with many other Inca sites are but built for winter retreats in asthetically pleasing geographical Locations.... (((Yawn)))... Even though Hugh has done some amazing things during his lifetime his ability to play down his discoveries and write in the air of that typically English cricket playing gent style just adds to the sheer frustration of reading this book..... If only Hugh would show a little bit of the poet in himself maybe the book would be more of a colorful read.. Whilst the book does give an excellent grounding in the Spanish conquest and the history of exploration since the Spanish invasion there is no emphasis on the culture of the Inca themselves hence the three star rating. In addition the White Rock fails to build any picture into the intricacies of current Peruvian culture/Politics and the relationship too the Spanish conquest and the Inca civilization that predated the arrival of Pizzaro. Nor does it reveal anything of the Inca and the mysteries that still perplex current day anthropologists and archaeologists!!! If your looking for a book based on the history of exploration in Peru and the factual events of the Spanish conquest then this is a good read but if your looking for an inroad into the Inca Culture, their cosmology, and their 'lost' citys then I suggest reading material by the author Ronald wright.
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on 10 June 2003
I bought Hugh Thompson's book "The White Rock" whilst travelling in Peru. I was very impressed by it as Hugh manages to capture the atmosphere and the places extremely well. He has a great sense of humour and manages to weave in historic bits and facts effortlessly. A must-read for everyone who travels to the Inka Heartland. A book you won't be able to put down.
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on 31 July 2002
Hugh Thomson presents in a fresh and exciting way his journey across the Inca heartland. Alongside descriptions of the wonderful Incaic monuments, such as Machu Picchu, the author realistically explains the historic and cultural background of the nearby local communities. The beauty of the Andean landscape together with the hardships endured while travelling at such high altitudes complete the picture. The vivid descriptions and the author's cheerful approach accompany the reader in a fascinating virtual journey across the lands that once made up the Inca Empire.
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on 3 January 2002
If you have ever visited Peru, or are about to visit, or just interested in the history of the country, then this book is for you. It is a book of one man's travel in the country, but with a twist. He does not only visit the country, but explores the myths, the archeology and written historical accounts with a view to questioning long-held modern beliefs of the Inca's and their Cities.
This is a presentation of the history of the Conquest, reminiscent of John Hemming's "The Conquest of the Inca's", but with the extra twist of allowing the reader to follow in the Author's footsteps as he retraces in person the journey of the Conquistadors and the ensuing reactions of the Inca's.
I loved this book. A year after returning from my first visit to the country I was suddenly transported back there and feel like I have been shown a new slant on a much documented subject - surely this means I have to go back now!!
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on 17 March 2004
This book is dedicated to pilgrims everywhere. It is an epic story emanating from one man's decision to leave everything behind to discover, and later, re-discover Peru. It is told over a 20 year period and, in the process of discovering Peru, the author discovers himself. Hugh Thompson is one of us; he narrates as if he knows we are listening; he keeps us involved!
Most of us have a fair idea about Peru's historical ancesters - multiple tribes of Indians collectively knowns as "Incas",who worshipped the sun, wore colourful custumes and who shaped beautiful objects from the plentiful supplies of gold and silver. Alas, their world was to be turned upside down by 150 Spanish invaders who, with their modern weapons and protective metal gear, defeated a confused, vulnerable and highly superstitious race. Hugh breaks up this tragic history over the entire story as he travels through Peru. We are fed pieces of the history and we greedliy ask for more.
The books starts brilliantly - "Raiders of the Lost ark" was released just as he returned from his first visit to Peru and he excitedly watched it in a London cinema. Although too fantastic for words, the vision of "Indy" searching in caves for a lost inca idol is the stuff of legends. Secretly, we all see ourselves in that role - the discoverer of lost artefacts in forgotten, swampy, tropical jungles.
His first visit was in 1982. He sees an unrefined yet friendly place as he and some friends "rough it". There are many discomforts and food is constantly rationed as they trek off the beaten path. Alcohol, coca plants, excessively-strong joints and food-binges in Cusco become a regular respite. He becomes a real traveller and jokingly scorns the "tourists" who arrive at Macchu Piccu the easy way. Thompson is in awe of this lost city but he is looking for other forgotten locations, lost in the undergrowth. He is loath to give Hiram Bingham too much credit for "discovering" Micch Piccu. The city was known to locals and previous travellers but Bingham gets the credit for "reporting it officially". Thompson refutes the former's assertion that Macchu Piccu was a last refuge for Inca women, there to serve the last Inca and worship the sun as it broke through the mountains at dawn.
Thompson, like myself, feels a deep sense of loss at the distruction of the empire by a small group of greedy and brutal foreigners - the beautiful gold and silver idols they crafted melted to make bullion. This is turn mirrors the melting down and disintegration of a most distinct culture. It is a very tragic tale and the reader can become affected by the brutality of their demise.
Thompson eventually reaches the white rock, the last location of the Incas...and we take a deep breath and start to read it all over again....
As I contemplate a future vist to Peru this book will be my best companion...Top reading!
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on 31 August 2004
"The White Rock; An Exploration of the Inca Heartland," by Hugh Thomson is a probing insight to the heart and soul of the ancient Inca people. The author is an explorer, historian and filmmaker. However, since the Inca civilization left no written records...Thomson constructed his understanding of the Inca piece by piece...step by step and day by day. Consequently he is now arguably one of the world's foremost experts on Peru's early society.
The author is modest. He acknowledges that luck played a large role in his successful find of Llactapata. First discovered by the legendary explorer Henry Bingham in 1911...(but he was never able to find it again.) Hence it was lost for over a half century until the remarkable discovery by the young tenderfoot from England. Moreover, Thomson playfully admits in the early portion of the text that luck was evident throughout his humble early beginnings in Peru.
The author took twenty years to write this book and provides a seasoned eye to help the reader understand why the Inca build where they did. I was particularly impressed with the meticulous research from beginning to end of this book. To this end, the text has a scholarly quality to it but Thomson's irreverant writting style keeps the narrative lively. Overall, Thomson brilliantly manages to document the Inca people's dramatic civilization and the terrible annihilation of the vast empire by the 16th century Spanish Conquistadors. Recommended.
Bert Ruiz
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on 17 November 2013
Three young men set out for Peru. The writer, one of the three, seems to be very well informed. I have read other books about the Incas but this takes you into Peru today, and its about the people as well as the history of the Incas. Not that I have read it all yet. I am about half way through having been diverted. But it's not a book to hurry and I was glad to return to it. Some readers of this book will be on the next plane to Cuzco. The historical account feels vivid and is brought to life as the author struggles with altitude, jungle, tracks and ruins.
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on 8 September 2004
"The White Rock; An Exploration of the Inca Heartland," by Hugh Thomson is a probing insight to the heart and soul of the ancient Inca people. The author is an explorer, historian and filmmaker. However, since the Inca civilization left no written records...Thomson constructed his understanding of the Inca piece by piece...step by step and day by day. Consequently he is now arguably one of the world's foremost experts on Peru's early society.
The author is modest. He acknowledges that luck played a large role in his successful find of Llactapata. First discovered by the legendary explorer Henry Bingham in 1911...(but he was never able to find it again.) Hence it was lost for over a half century until the remarkable discovery by the young tenderfoot from England. Moreover, Thomson playfully admits in the early portion of the text that luck was evident throughout his humble early beginnings in Peru.
The author took twenty years to write this book and provides a seasoned eye to help the reader understand why the Inca build where they did. I was particularly impressed with the meticulous research from beginning to end of this book. To this end, the text has a scholarly quality to it but Thomson's irreverant writting style keeps the narrative lively. Overall, Thomson brilliantly manages to document the Inca people's dramatic civilization and the terrible annihilation of the vast empire by the 16th century Spanish Conquistadors. Recommended.
Bert Ruiz
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on 20 February 2003
A fascinating storing about exploring the Inca trail. As well as talking about the Archeology (fascinating in itself), and the history of the Inca people it is also full of funny episodes that Hugh experienced whilst exploring. Really makes you want to go there and see what it's like.
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on 31 July 2015
First discovered this writer through his book about walking the Icknield Way in England. Having thoroughly enjoyed that and being interested in Native American history anyway, decided to treat myself and have not been disappointed. Very readable, takes you along with him on his travels but does not presume that the reader knows as much as he does and does not fall into the trap of being a dry archaeologist but tells everything in layman's terms. Look forward to reading more by this author.
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