No doubt later research has corrected some of the detail, but I regard this as a 'must read'. Others here have summarised the contents: while the Conquistadores' behaviour was often brutal by our standards today, what they achieved and what they endured while achieving it make an amazing story. But what makes this book a must is Prescott's approach to the story and his writing style, truly of his time and a sharp reminder of what we have lost in language and turn of phrase. If you get an edition with the long and detailed Seccombe introduction, read and enjoy the book before you read and enjoy the intro. But whatever you do, get and read a copy of this book!
There is very little information on the Amazon page about this book but take it from me it is a superb publication and a classic book about the conquest of Peru and the history of the might Inca Empire. That the book was compiled by WH Prescott with his failing eyes in the mid nineteenth century is also quite an amazing feat in itself.
As an overview it might be prudent to explain that the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire was one of the most important and amazing campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. This historic process of military conquest was made by the Spanish conquistadores led by fifty year old Francisco Pizarro. After a few years of preliminary exploration of great hardship and military skirmishes, Pizarro enters the heartland of the Inca Empire with around 200 Spanish soldiers. Whilst surrounded by an estimated 40-50,000 Inca warriors they lure the Inca King, Atahualpa, into a compound and capture him amidst great slaughter. They ransom Atahualpa for an enormous amount of gold and when payment is received they simply execute the poor chap and take over the whole Inca Empire. This however was but the first step, the Inca kingdom did revolt and over the next twenty years there were a series of long and brutal campaigns before the Inca Empire was completely brought to heal.
The overview provides just a short insight into what is an extraordinary story about what happens in Peru when the old world meets the violent new. It is told in the English grammatical terminology of the mid 1850's and the prose is excellent. The book is filled with great detail as a result of painstaking research from the author. Prescott covers the history of the Inca Empire, its customs and nobility as well as much, much more. If you want to know anything about Inca history then this is a great book for you.
All in all a fascinating and easy read full of information and facts about an amazing period of our history.