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..the experience surpasses the expectation!  Gotta love that!

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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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