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White Rock (Paperback)

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The White Rock (Paperback)

Hugh Thomson

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$16.95


ISBN 13: 978-1-58567-503-6
Trim Size:
Paperback
Overlook
12/30/2003

Product Description

More than twenty years ago, acclaimed documentary filmmaker and explorer Hugh Thomson first set off into the Peruvian cloud forest on foot, to find a ruin called Llactapata which, although it had been discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1912, had been "lost" again. Accompanied by two drinking buddies from back home and several native guides, Thomson "finds" Llactapata and, as with many famous explorers before him, also finds himself struck by the heady drug of discovery-which doesn't end at finding a ruin; what matters is understanding what the ruins mean. The author chooses Chuquipalta-the "White Rock" of the title, deep in the Vilcabamba-as being emblematic of the hidden and lost Inca world which is rarely visited and which he has explored.

In the more than two decades since this first foray into the curious and confusing world of Inca ruins, Thomson traveled to some of the most remote lost cities along the countless interconnecting paths the Incas laid across the Andes. He talked to many leading archeologists and explorers working in the area, and investigated the remains of the remarkable civilization that the Incas left behind-one which is still only partially understood. The result of his discoveries and research is The White Rock, a clear-sighted history of the Inca people, their extraordinary culture, and what this remarkable civilization left behind.

Thomson weaves the story of his own discoveries and brushes with danger into a narrative that seamlessly relates the accounts of the famous explorers who preceded him-including Hiram Bingham, who discovered Machu Picchu; the brave Robert Nichols, killed looking for the mythical "Paititi" (a temple-site in the Madred de Dios which has acquired the same lure for explorers as the original El Dorado had for the Conquistadors); and the remarkable modern explorer, Gene Savoy, who discovered many impressive sites in just the last few years, including Espritu Pampa, the last refuge of the Inca court after the Spanish conquest. He also tells the tales of such figures as Ernesto "Che" Guevara; the twentieth century South American photographer, Martn Chambi; the poet Pablo Neruda; and the Spanish conquistadors who destroyed the Inca civilization.

Thomson thrillingly tells of hiking paths so treacherous that horses and mules had to be blindfolded to lead them across; of first seeing the breathtaking ruins of Choquequirao, "bathed in sunlight looking literally like a 'cradle of gold'"; and of illegal forays into the jungle (without the requisite visas). As the Independent said, "This is Bruce Chatwin with cojones."

"An intrepid tale fascinating, and intelligently told a strong debut." Sunday Times

"Thomson's account of his travels through the Inca heartlands weaves geographical, spiritual, personal, and historical strands to an effect as rich and varied as a Peruvian shawl Thomson constantly tests current theories Engaging!" Daily Telegraph

Hugh Thomson traveled extensively in Latin America before becoming a filmmaker. He has since directed many documentaries, including the Out of India series and Great Journeys: Mexico and has led filming expeditions to Mexico and the Himalayas. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and lives in Bristol.

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