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Posts Tagged ‘Peru’

…but I haven’t forgotten this blog! Life kind of got on top of me; I’ve been reading a lot and working a lot and doing a lot in general so I let the blogging slide.  But I find as I’ve been reading I’ve been coming up with more topics that I want to blog about, so hopefully over the next few weeks you’ll hear more from me.

So what have I been reading recently? Well, I’ve just updated my ‘Books read in 2011’ page so you can see exactly what I’ve been reading. But I think there are some in the list that deserve a special mention.

Moab Is My Washpot & The Fry Chronicles, both by Stephen Fry: The first 2 books in Fry’s biography are nothing short of fantastic. He’s honest, self-depreciating, critical, humorous, and passionate and throughout it all his language and vocabulary keep you grabbing for the dictionary (in a good way).  His love of words resonates across the pages and you can’t help but smile at the loquacious style and wealth of word play.  I loved these books and heartily recommend them.

Travelling with Che Guevara by Alberto Grenada:  I think I’m safe in making the assumption that everyone has heard of Che Guevara.  Many will have heard of or watched the film based on Guevara’s book, The Motorcycle Diaries.  I’d heard of Guevara and the film, I knew a little about his politics but my knowledge was vague.  This book is the diary of Guevara’s travelling companion when they took off on an old motorcycle to cross South America and explore their own continent and how the locals live, work and survive under a variety of different regimes.  They meet a variety of characters along the way and Grenada’s descriptions carry you along with them.  You can smell and envision their surroundings; you can hear their conversations with locals.  You can sense their frustration at the lack of democracy and the influence of American capitalism on the impoverished locals and indigenous peoples.  It’s a great book and an excellent insight into the early formation of Guevara’s politics.  It’s so good, I went straight out and bought Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries.

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“A fascinating, intelligently told tale, full of intriguing revelations that penetrates deeper into the Andean past than previously attempted.” Traveller Magazine

I’m off to Peru in a couple of months for a holiday so a friend bought me this book as a Christmas present and I decided that the best way to say thank you was to try to get across how fabulous I found this book in a blog post.

I thought I knew what I was going to visit when I booked my trip to Peru, I was excited at the thought of seeing Machu Picchu, but it turns out I really didn’t know anything about the history and culture of this fascinating country.  Hugh Thomson takes on the immense task of trying to convey five millennia of Peruvian history and culture in one book, whilst also attempting to express his own intellectual and physical journey through a country he has been exploring for over twenty five years, in a way that the non-scholar can relate to.  And as far as I’m concerned, he succeeds.

This is a tale of his own journey, so it allows Thomson to interweave personal stories and experiences alongside the historical and archaeological facts.  This brings a human touch to the book and gives the reader an insight into Thomson’s own feelings about Peru and its people.  It’s astute, captivating and, most importantly for a book full of dates and facts, not dry.  Thomson introduces us to Peru’s cultural history and the people who lived and worked the land over millions of years and why they may have lived the way they did.  He also introduces explorers and archaeologists, their viewpoints and arguments and provides his own opinions and perspectives.  The book may be full of detail and history but it’s written like a travel book rather than a history book.  And it’s also inspiring!  Thomson takes us on a journey through Peru’s past but also introduces us to the modern Peru and the beliefs and lifestyles.

His accounts of his travels and discoveries got my adrenaline pumping and heart racing with anticipation.  I know I’m not going to hunt for any undiscovered temples but Thomson allowed me to imagine how it would feel and experience it vicariously.  If I hadn’t already decided to visit, this book would have had me reaching for the travel brochures and I’m now counting the days until I get to follow in some of Thomson’s footsteps.  Plus I really feel like I’ll be able to appreciate what I’m seeing now that I have a much clearer idea of why the temples and other structures were built and how the different cultures relate to each other. 

As further proof of how much I enjoyed this book, before I had even finished it, I purchased Thomson’s earlier book, The White Rock.  I can’t wait to see this amazing country for myself and thanks to Hugh Thomson (and my friend for buying me the book) I’ll be able to view the sights and really feel like I understand what I’m looking at.

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