Cuzco 1536–37: Battle for the Heart of the Inca Empire (Campaign) - Si Sheppard, Giuseppe Rava

Cuzco 1536–37: Battle for the Heart of the Inca Empire (Campaign) - Si Sheppard, Giuseppe Rava

A well put together very and readable little history book that I read over three evenings.

This is yet another book I wouldn’t have selected for myself, but I’m honestly glad it came my way. It discusses the civil war between two brothers that ended up with one of them having control of the massive, not to mention powerful, Inca Empire.

This book is one of a series (not all by the same author) of over 300 titles of ‘key’ events from history. A sort of ‘Horrible History’ series for adults.

This is a very slim volume (only about 100 pages) but really punches above its weight. At least in my case, as I knew very little of the Inca Empire. I’d suggest that this is a volume for the more ‘hardcore’ history enthusiast, rather than someone just looking for an overview.

The author, (Si Sheppard) is predominantly an academic, but don’t let that put you off, his writing is easy to understand and flows well. Unusually for an academic, the pages are not littered with references, but there is an extensive bibliography. The illustrator, (Giuseppe Rava) much to my surprise is self-taught. His illustrations are very good.

There are some very good modern-day photographs adding weight and credence to the text and there are some very good maps that helped me orientate myself with parts of the world that I’m not particularly familiar with; especially when they are referred to by long-forgotten names. However, these maps whilst useful, also bring me to my biggest complaint about the book. They are all littered with text, very small text! Since Osprey books have chosen to do this, they must know something that I don’t, and I’ll bow to their knowledge and experience: but my personal preference would be to have smaller maps and larger text placed in properly sited sidebars.

One nice touch, which marks this book out from many other history books is that there are a few pages (five in all) that lay out the chronology of events. If you are after a very brief overview this is all you need. I actually found it helpful to read this section first so that I at least had a feel for what was coming and what areas the author was going to concentrate on. I would have put these pages at the very front of the book if I had laid it out.

I’m going to give this book 3.5 anchors. I would have run to more but for the chronology pages coming in as the second chapter, the smallish font that has been used for most of the book, and the even smaller font on the maps. However, I guess the publisher had to compromise somewhere due to the limited appeal of the book, but I’d have preferred a cheaper paper in place of the high gloss paper used, rather than small text. Sadly, you can’t satisfy everybody.

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