The White Rock by Hugh Thomson

The White Rock

One man goes in search of the lost cities of the Amazon in the Inca heartland.The lost cities of South America have always exercised a powerful hold on the popular imagination. The ruins of the Incas and other pre-Colombian civilisations are scattered over thousands of miles of still largely uncharted territory, particularly in the Eastern Andes, where the mountains fall away towards the Amazon. Twenty-five years ago, Hugh Thomson set off into th...

Details The White Rock

TitleThe White Rock
Release DateOct 5th, 2006
PublisherOverlook TP
GenreTravel, Nonfiction, History, Autobiography, Memoir

Reviews The White Rock

  • Paul
    Hugh Thomson first went to Peruvian Andes at the age of 22. He was seeking a ruin that had been discovered a while ago, before being lost to time again. As a fresh faced youth, he found the Inca people and the places he visited compelling, confusing but most of all intoxicating. Walking in the footsteps of the great explorers, such as Bingham, who discovered Machu Picchu and Chambi a famous South American photographer, he travels across plains, o...
  • Stephanie
    "The White Rock: An Exploration of the Inca Heartland" by Hugh ThomsonThis is a book about the lure of the unknown, the fabled, the view over the next horizon. In this autobiographical book, Hugh Thomson leaps from a life as an undirected youth in London, to the wildest of ideas, and that is to go exploring in Peru in the hopes of finding lost cities rumored in the accounts of the conquistadors. This true tale could have been a story of disastrou...
  • Felicity
    A well-crafted hybrid of memoir, travel book and history. It begins with Thomson's quixotic decision as a 21-year-old, untrained, to go to Peru and re-find an Inca ruin that had been discovered, then lost again. In the decades since, he's become a more seasoned explorer and a documentary filmmaker, and his love for the mountainous areas of Peru is a constant.Interwoven with his descriptions of the beautiful, punishing terrain and the abandoned co...
  • Michele
    A fine read about the Inca civilization and the Spanish conquistadores. This is also the first person account of a young man’s adventurous explorations of the ancient ruins. Fascinating combination of history and adventure for anyone, but an especially fine choice if you happen to be heading to Peru.
  • Whitenoisemaker
    I read this one whilst kicking around Cusco, and recommend it very highly for anyone getting into the Andean portions of Peru.Thomson vividly and good-humouredly describes the business of both his own exploration and that of others, simulaneously giving credit where it's due and puncturing a few legends - those created by explorers and archaeologists about the Incas, and, perhaps more amusingly, those created by explorers and archaeologists about...
  • Steven
    This book combined so many interests of mine, I don't see how I couldn't have liked it. Exploration, maps, history, travel, mountains, archaeology, family trees -- all that was missing was polar exploration, but since much of it took place at chilly altitudes, I'm still a pretty happy reader.Thomson masterfully interweaves his own personal experiences as an explorer with accounts of colleagues, historical information and cultural observances in a...
  • Justin Meek
    A modern day account of exploring Manchu Picchu in the Andes and exposition of the fascinating tale of the Incas when the Spanish invaded.
  • Tim Martin
    _The White Rock_ by Hugh Thomson is a fascinating, well-written account of both the author's travels to Inca sites in Peru and Bolivia and his efforts to address the big discrepancies between popular conceptions of the Incas and the actual evidence of what they were like, an effort complicated by the fact that the Incas left no written record and much of what know about them comes from the often biased accounts of Spanish conquistadors and from t...
  • Adam Geisler
    The Inca are often misunderstood. Without a known written language, much of their history is based on speculation, archaeological remains, and oral tradition. It is this mysterious nature that draws many people to the old Inca empire, which was centered in Peru, but whose influence extended beyond that country’s modern borders. It is also what drew Hugh Thomson to Peru. Part of the attraction of his book is his blend of carefree adventure and c...
  • Richp
    This is my first book on the Inca, so I learned a lot. I hope the author did a good job factually speaking, since I do not have separate knowledge. He does cite a good range of sources, including a number of recent explorers, revent defined as being alive in the 1982-2001 period in which he was involved prior to finishing the book.There are three stories here, the author's memoirs of his expeditions, summaries of other explorers' expeditions, and...
  • Lucretia Bingham
    Just came back from trekking in Peru, found this book delved into Inca history in a very readable way. Having visited many of the sites he writes of, it was fun to see them described by someone else. I first saw the White Rock in 2000 then again in 2015, the Vilcabamba area is still much unchanged, unlike Machu Picchu which is increasingly overrun with tourists.
  • Paige
    I liked the book quite a bit. I only completed half of it before I hiked the Inca Trail up to Machu Picchu, and then the second half after I had finished. I think I actually enjoyed it much more with the experience of hiking the trail fresh in my mind. I was able to picture the places, buildings and landscapes that he was describing. A must read on a pre-Peru trip read list!
  • Woody
    The book chronicles Thomson's exploration of Inca ruins in the early 1980s and his return trip 20 years later. It's a compelling and well-written adventure story, interspersed with the sad and brutal tale of the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire.
  • Franc
    This is the best book (of the 4 or 5 I read for my trip) on the trekking thru the land of the Incas.
  • Jim
    Hugh Thomson is a man of many parts: filmmaker, explorer, writer, blogger, tour guide ... the list goes on. He also happens to be the author of The White Rock: An Exploration of the Inca Heartland, one of the best books I have read about visiting little-known Inca sites in that vast, little-known area northwest of Cuzco. The book falls neatly into two parts. The first part covers his visits in the early 1980s, when the Sendero Luminoso terrorist ...
  • Nd
    Hugh Thompson's report of his exploration of the Inca "Heartland" is remarkable. He spent an inordinate amount of time trekking through Peru, a bit of the rainforest, but especially the Andes mountains in Peru and its surrounding countries. During his expeditions, he was getting to know the people who lived there and learning the distinct differences among the inhabitants as well as the numerable localities. All the while, in addition to talking ...
  • Lindsey
    My dad read this last summer when he was visiting Emily and recommended it to me. I've had it sitting on my shelf since then but wanted to save it for when we were actually in Peru; I'm glad I did. I know I wouldn't have gotten nearly as much out of the book without the context our trip provided because my background knowledge of the Inca empire had been limited to what little I remembered from high-school history classes. In fact, I had to rerea...
  • Serena
    This book feeds my obsession of Peru and travel, and as far as travel books go, it's incredibly comprehensive! Most travel books are place-specific memoirs sprinkled with funny stories told via the author's particular humorist style (nothing wrong with that), but Thomson also includes a lot of history, sources, and differing views about native and modern culture that is still clearly being modified. Living history might be the best way to describ...
  • Flora
    Another book that I started but had to return to the library. I will get it and finish. Very exciting story of the further explorations of Incan Hiram Bingham.I just requested this one from the library to continue reading...Back home with copy. Very good read especially after our trip to Peru. I would recommend it to anyone going to Machu Picchu. This will give you a better perspective on the importance of the Inca ruins and how many...
  • Allen
    I liked this book quite a bit, but I had to fight some feelings of envy while reading it. The author, a young man in the early 1980s, decided to go looking for a lost Inca city. He and two friends managed to get a little bit of funding from donors and take off for Peru. They actually did rediscover an Inca city that Hiram Bingham had seen, but failed to document carefully. The book recounts the authors' travels in pre- Sendero Luminoso Peru, and ...
  • Pete
    Pretty fun stuff. Thomson is better when discussing, the Incan system of divide and conquer, first person accounts of the Conquest, and later explorers like Hiram Bingham. Not as sharp or entertaining when describing the kind of 'had to be there' experiences that independent travelers so often encounter. Wow, you smoked weed in the Amazon and saw crazy stuff! Some of those tales belong solely in one's own journal. He also possesses the annoying t...
  • Michael Kerr
    As a callow unfocused youth, Thomson headed off to Peru searching for an Incan ruin that had been discovered and then lost again. This is the account of his rediscovery of the site, which then expanded into an exploration of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador on the trail of the wider Inca empire. It's a curious book - part memoir, part history, part travelogue - filled with odd characters and and explorer's excitement in the chase. Thomson's highly read...
  • Barney
    part travelogue, part history, and peppered with personal anecdotes. articulates the heady rush of exploration and discovery, breathes life into the rise and fall of the inca empire (and what happened after), and chronicles the many explorers who found their way into the jungles and mountains to 'discover' some of the last remnants of a truly astonishing civilisation (as well as those who didn't come back). in essence, it's incredibly sad, but it...
  • Nikki
    An excellent piece of travel writing, of the best kind. Multi-faceted, weaving history, literature, art, and archaeology seamlessly into the plot of a memoir that is humble, humorous, open, and deeply personal. I especially loved reading the first-person account of a middle-aged man reflecting on his youth and the risks and results of that original adventure. I feel I would really enjoy getting to know Hugh Thompson at any age. This book is charm...
  • Todd Stockslager
    Good story of modern-day explorers looking for Inca ruins in the mountains and jungles of Peru. A little too "New Journalism" touchy-feely and not enough straightforward writing knocks it down a peg from "What a classic!" status.And I wish there were more pictures. But it does stir that part of the imagination where there are places of the world not yet explored, or once explored but long-since lost, the sense of a very far-away place in time and...
  • Gavin
    Macchu Picchu (or alternate transliteration of your choice) in Peru is the subject of this book. Its history, discovery by Spaniards, loss and rediscovery in the early twentieth century. This is a great book, full of interesting details about Peruvian history. The author travelled around various sights in Peru on the trail of the Aztecs, the rediscoverers of the site and the conquistadors.An excellent read and very worthwhile travel writing.
  • Eduardo
    This travelogue mixes the hilarious mishaps of an exuberant 21-year-old backpacker with the erudition of a long-time explorer of pre-Columbian Andean civilizations. The story of the young, improbable explorer is told 20 years later by the mature, knowledgeable and engaging man he has become. Thomson packs a lot of history, archaeology and insight into a very light read. An excellent book; the best I've read in a long while.
  • Laura (booksnob)
    If you're traveling to Peru this book would make a good companion. I took it with me on my trip and learned a lot about the history, culture and geography of the Inca and Peru as we visited the historical sites within the book. There is a chapter on Machu Picchu and on Ollantaytambo and many more places. It was a interesting read and I will use a lot of the information I learned in my world history class this year. Have a great trip.
  • Chroniclesoftania
    A fascinating exploration into the Inca world. This book told me far more than any Peru guidebook. At times it was hilarious as the author mentions challenges on the journey encountering snakes and mosquitoes, tensions between explorers and archeologists, companions not bringing enough food or first aid, stubborn mules and locals insisting on listening to a certain type of music on the radio while trekking and of course plenty of dehydrated food ...
  • Barbara
    I read this book a few years ago and liked it a lot, then found it again on my bookshelf right after returning from a hiking trip around Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Even more fun to read it after seeing some of the Andes and the fabulous Incan stone work everywhere. A great combination of adventure travel and anthropology.