Let your wanderlust take you on a journey in time to the conquest of the Incas, discover the connection between a well-known Verdi opera and the city of Lima, or perhaps re-create the exotic flavors of Peru at home thanks to the recipes of a world-renowned Peruvian Chef. At this pertinent time, remember the words of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library”.
Those who yearn to travel to Peru or feel nostalgia for a journey already taken, may find some solace in undertaking an armchair tour by means of written works evoking that mythical land. Works that might satisfy their craving include the following:
Princeton Field Guides: Birds of Peru. Birds of Peru is the most complete and authoritative field guide to this diverse, neotropical landscape. It features every one of Peru’s 1,817 bird species and shows the distinct plumages of each in 307 superb, high-quality color plates. Concise descriptions and color distribution maps are located opposite the plates, making this book much easier to use in the field than standard neotropical field guides.
Virgilio MARTÍNEZ: Lima cookbook. Peruvian Home Cooking. The growing popularity of Peruvian cuisine throughout the world has made Lima, the capital of Peru, a destination city for food lovers. Virgilio Martinez is the most famous young chef in Peru. His restaurant Central, in Lima, is among the best in the world and he has opened two LIMA restaurants in the heart of London. This book is a collection of more than 100 of Virgilio’s fuss-free, contemporary recipes you can cook mentioning also the superfoods for which Peruvian food is renowned.
Manuel VILLACORTA: Peruvian Power Foods: 18 Superfoods, 101 Recipes, and Anti-aging Secrets from the Amazon to the Andes. While superfoods have entered the health conversation in recent years, many people are unaware that some of the most powerful foods on the planet hail from Peru. Not only are these superfoods teeming with healing effects, they are also packed with flavor, transforming ordinary, everyday healthy meals into the extraordinary.
HISTORY & ARCHAEOLOGY
Kim McGUIRE. The last days of the Incas. Kim MacQuarrie lived in Peru for five years and became fascinated by the Incas and the history of the Spanish conquest. Drawing on both native and Spanish chronicles, he vividly describes the dramatic story of the conquest, with all its savagery and suspense.
Sidney KIRKPATRICK. Lords of Sipan, A True Story of Pre-Inca Tombs, Archaeology, and Crime. Written by award-winning New York Times best-selling author Sidney D. Kirkpatrick, Lords of Sipan has all the elements of great fiction: Priceless antiquities entombed in an ancient pyramid; sinister looters; slick black-market smugglers; and a brilliant and dedicated archaeologist who risks his life to restore the treasures to their native country. But for all its heroics and its compelling plot, the real dramatic twist is that this story is true. Not since Howard Carter excavated Tutankhamun’s tomb has an archaeological narrative been so engaging and rich with suspense and intrigue. Kirkpatrick meticulously researched one man’s struggle to excavate and protect the greatest archaeological discovery ever made in the Western Hemisphere.
Keith MUSCUTT. Warriors of the Clouds: A Lost Civilization in the Upper Amazon of Peru. “In the upper Amazon of northern Peru, a spectacular civilization flourished in what is today one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of the world. Its people, known as the Chachapoyas, or Cloud People, were conquered by the Inca around AD 1475, and then succumbed to the ravages of Spanish Colonial rule. Their descendants still inhabit this area, living in scattered villages or isolated farmsteads, frequently juxtaposed to the spectacular ruins of their ancestors. Written in a humanistic and wonderfully readable style, and accompanied the the author’s extraordinary photographs, Warriors of the Clouds makes the region come alive.
Inca Garcilaso DE LA VEGA. The Royal Commentaries of the Incas and General History of Peru. This new abridgment of both volumes of Livermore’s classic translation presents those selections that comprise Garcilaso’s historical narrative. Karen Spalding’s new Introduction and notes set Garcilaso in his intellectual, historical, and cultural contexts.
Thor HEYERDAHL: The Kon-Tiki Expedition, by raft across the South Seas. George Allen & Unwin, London, 1950 (and later editions including Penguin). The story of an epic voyage in 1947 by balsa raft from Callao on the Peruvian coast to Tahiti.
Mervyn SAMUEL: Reflections of Peru. Yolanda Carlessi, Lima, 2019. Articles and notes on varied aspects of Peruvian history from the Moche culture in the north, to the Inca empire of Tahuantinsuyo and the Viceregal period lasting over three centuries.
Hugh THOMSON: Cochineal Red, Travels through Ancient Peru. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 2006. Paperback editions: Phoenix, 2007. Published in the USA as A Sacred Landscape. The Search for Ancient Peru. The Overlook Press, Woodstock and New York, 2007.An overview of archaeological explorations in Peru, related to the different ancient cultures of the area.
Anthony F. AVENI: Nasca, Eighth Wonder of the World? British Museum Press, London, 2000. A good summary of the geoglyphs at Nasca and of the various interpretations put forward to explain them.
George BANKES: Peru before Pizarro. Phaidon, Oxford, 1977. A comprehensive overview of pre-Hispanic Peru.
John HEMMING: The Conquest of the Incas. Macmillan, London, 1970. A complete modern account. An up-dated, revised edition is available in digital format through Amazon.
Burton D FISCHER. SUMMARY and ANALYSIS: ALZIRA: Dramatic Opera with a Prologue and two acts by Giuseppe Verdi. Famous ALZIRA Verdi’s opera play is based on a story written by French Philosopher Voltaire, but few people realize that the set for this novel is Lima and the whole play is about Peru and the relation between Spanish and Native Peruvians.
Thornton WILDER: The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Longmans, London, 1927 (and later editions, including Penguin). A classic novel set in Viceregal Peru.
James HIGGINS: Lima. Signal Books, Oxford, 2005. A wide-ranging and well-informed commentary on Lima’s history, culture and sociological reality.
SPIRITUALITY & SCIENCE FICTION:
James REDFIELD: The Celestine Prophecy. A compelling story of intrigue, suspense, and revelation, The Celestine Prophecy begins when an ancient manuscript is found amid ruins deep in the Peruvian jungle. Revealing nine key insights that are critical to the evolution of the human race, it contains secrets that are changing the world, and reveals how to make connections to events happening in listeners’ lives right now.
Nilda CALLAÑAUPA. Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands: Dreaming Patterns, Weaving Memories. A richly illustrated look at Andean weaving, which embodies the living history and culture of the Peruvian highlands, this guide extensively catalogs many of the intricate patterns found in traditional Peruvian textiles. Exploring the personal histories of the Quechua people who sustain this tradition