book report: The Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie

Last summer I tried reading William Prescott's The Conquest of Peru (published in 1847) and almost made it halfway through before my lending period from the library ended. I decided not to renew, not that it was a bad account, but there was so much more to read at the library. Little did I know that a new account of the Incas had come out at that very time, and, it turns out, it is quite an engrossing read.

The Last Days of the Incas, Kim MacQuarrie, 2007, has almost everything I want out of a history book except for more maps and a table of maps. One of my favorite features in his book is the opening of chapters with fantastic quotes, some of which I will share over the next couple days. This first quote explains why religion has very little influence on conquerors, even Christian ones, in my opinion.

For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretenses – either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us – and make a long speech that would not be belived…You know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must
Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, 5th century B.C. p.55

The summary of this quote is "might makes right." When in power, justifications for atrocities flow easily. God save us from ourselves.

See my other book reports and posts on atrocities.


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