Aguirre: The Re-Creation of a Sixteenth-Century Journey Across South America

Stephen Minta, Author Henry Holt & Company $20 (244p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3103-4
In 1560 the new Spanish governor of Inca Peru authorized an expedition to find and conquer El Dorado, the hoped-for source of Inca wealth. An enormous force of armed men, horses, supplies and ships were marshalled to navigate the Amazon. It was an ill-fated search fraught with unimagined disasters--ships sank, horses were lost, men were terrorized and starved by the jungles and the uncharted river. A traitor in the ranks, Lope de Aguirre, hungering for wealth and status, fomented a rebellion, killing the expedition's leader and lieutenants, his comrades and his own daughter. In the late 1980s Minta ( Gabriel Garcia Marquez ) set out with a companion to reconstruct the story by following the expedition's route. Their own ordeal on old Inca paths through jungle and over mountains, often on foot for lack of other transport, though dramatic in itself, continuously distracts from the narrative of Aguirre's drama. Nevertheless, Minta's intimacy with past and present Peru evokes the ambience of the conquest and its immediate sequelae, as well as the still palpable imprint of the Inca on contemporary and rarely visited Andean communities. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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Paperback - 978-0-8050-3104-1
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