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The History of the Incas

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The History of the Incas
By Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa. Translated and edited by Brian S. Bauer and Vania Smith. Introduction by Brian S. Bauer and Jean-Jacques Decoster. (University of Texas Press, Austin: 2007. Pg. xiv, 266. b&w photos, figures, table.) ISBN 10: 0-292-71485-8. ISBN 13: 978-0-292-71485-4.

Reviewed by Simon Bonim - March 26, 2007

The History of the Incas was written in 1572 by Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa. This translation, by Brian S. Bauer and Vania Smith makes this exciting work available to readers of English who might not otherwise have access to this priceless history. In addition, they took pains to make this book as accessible as possible to nonspecialist, without destroying the historical significance or meaning of the text, and to remove extraneous information such as the chapter on the search for the lost city of Atlantis. The introduction to this book, written by Brian S. Bauer and Jean-Jacques Decoster provides an edifying overview of The History of the Incas, covering such details as how and where Gamboa wrote the original manuscript and the many incarnations of the book over the ages.

Gamboa wrote this history while in the city of Cuzco, the capitol of the Inca Empire. At the time, there were those still around with a first hand knowledge of the Empire and its history, and Gamboa made full use of these informants. It is, in many regards, the only contemporary Inca history in existence. As such, this book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in Andean studies, specifically Inca history and mythology. This translation of The History of the Incas is eminently readable, and should be required reading in any college-level course dealing with Inca history, anthropology, or archaeology.


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