Peru Reader

The Peru Reader – One Look Through the Volume of History

  • Book: “The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics”
  • Author: Orin Starn, Carlos Iván Degregori, Robin Kirk, editors
  • Publisher: Duke University Press, 2nd edition, 2005

This nice compilation that starts with the introduction to the ancient times and ends with the recent events of the 20th century, is a good overview of the general history of Peru.

When you first arrive to Peru, you will most likely land in Lima, its capital city.  You will quickly realize that this country is just as complex and mysterious today as it was hundreds of years ago.  Though Lima is not the prettiest city, as I mentioned in my previous article, it should not define your initial experience of Peru.  Yes, it’s poor, and yes there is crime, however by taking a look at the deeper levels of history, one will be able to trace the roots of the evil… and/or at least understand better how did Peru manage to become what it is today.

This book is divided into several parts that cover different, chronological periods of Peruvian history.  Even though you won’t uncover the secrets of Machu Picchu – how it was built, and what really happened there, you will have a chance to read a number of juicy stories about how Peru was conquered by a small bunch of greedy and skillful Spaniards, among other things.  If these true stories won’t make your blood boil – then I don’t know what will.

The later parts of the book also include short excerpts from the modern literature of Peru, that will not only provide a wide angle view on the intricate states of the present society but will also leave you yearning to know more.  Which is a good thing, because Peru has a number of outstanding authors, that are unfortunately, might not be as famous as their compatriots from other South American countries, however just as good and deserving of your attention.

“Though I visit the Andes out of curiosity, I will never love them.  They are too brutal, too vast, too remote.  They have lifted me to frightful agony of body and soul, to grand awe, but I always want to escape quickly.  Unlike the harsh mountains of Mexico or California or New England’s wooded hills, they do not pull me on and on with irresistible fresh delight.  But from Garrido I learned at least to understand them better, to discover even in that rugged vastness, minor delicate notes, human life there, sad yet also rich and hopeful.  But perhaps, since for so many centuries the Andean people have quite forgotten the inner meaning of the Andes and of themselves, even Garrido had to go to the lowlands, to Moche, to discover them.  However much this bland little town on the open starry-sky plain differs from the stark bitter Andes, both are places of ancient Indian soil wisdom.”

(“The Massacre of Chan Chan” by Carleton Beals, p. 263) 

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