Best books to read about Peru

Posted by Michael Pullman 4th August 2022
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Best Books to Read Before Visiting Peru

You might think a country with a history as rich as Peru would have a lot of excellent books about it…and you’d be right! So where to start? Well, we’ve managed to narrow our essential Peru reading list down to five.

The Conquest of the Incas, John Hemming

In 1532 the Inca Empire was the last great civilisation isolated from the rest of humankind. So how did a small band of men led by Pizarro manage to conquer the Incas? This is something of a sad read, given the appalling behaviour of the conquistadores, but it’s essential reading to bring the ruins to life before any visit to Peru. 

Eight Feet in the Andes: Travels With a Mule in Unknown Peru, Dervla Murphy

Dervla Murphy travels the length of Peru with her 9-year-old daughter and a mule named Juana, from Cajamaraca, in the north, over 1,300 miles to Cuzco. The stunning mountain scenery is described in vivid detail, and this is a humours and generous-spirited book containing plenty of nuggets of Peruvian culture, as well as the indomitable spirit of this slightly mad Irish woman and her adaptable and enthusiastic daughter.

Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen, Martin Morales

The founder of London’s Ceviche restaurants, Martin Morales, who was born in Peru but has lived in the UK for the last 30 years, shows just why Peruvian cuisine is trending at the moment. From the best ceviche recipes to quinoa salads and barbequed meat, this is a book that looks as divine as the recipes taste.

Cloud Road: A Journey Through the Inca Heartland, John Harrison

Author John Harrison spent 5 months walking through a country you won’t find on any map - the Andean nation. Living at over 10,000 feet for most of the trip, Harrison travels along the Camino Real, or Royal Road, hand built by the Incas over 500 years ago. Following some of the most difficult and dangerous terrain in South America, his journey brings him to the most magical Inca site of all; Machu Picchu. This is great travel writing, full of interesting facts about Peru and the Incas.

The Devil and Mr Casement: One Man's Struggle for Human Rights in South America's Heart of Darkness

Fresh from documenting the terrible atrocities committed by King Leopold in the Congo, human rights activist and anti imperialist Roger Casement travelled to Peru in 1910 to investigate reports of human rights abuse in the rubber industry. Casement’s findings, of tens of thousands of Indians dying to produce rubber, sent shockwaves around the world in 1912, but were soon overshadowed by World War One and largely forgotten. Jordan Goodman brings to light this story of corporate greed and colonial exploitation in this shameful episode of history.

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