Kim Macquarrie is an author, filmmaker, and adventurer. His book, The Last Days of the Incas, tells the story of the Incan Empire and the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. His latest book, Life and Death in the Andes, traces Macquarrie’s travels through South America as he reveals the history of each place he visits through the portal of iconic historical periods.
Kim has won four Emmy Awards for his work in documentaries. He wrote and produced a documentary called Living Edens: Manu about the natural beauty of the Amazon jungle in Peru. His documentary Kamchatka follows grizzly bears in Siberia. Kim told me the story of the time he was chased up a tree by a mother grizzly bear!
Kim lived in Peru for four years in the 1980s, during the height of the Shining Path, a Maoist terrorist organization that had a prolonged conflict with the Peruvian government. During that era there were regular bombings around Peru. Kim actually went into the prisons to interview captured Shining Path members. Kim describes the prison that was self-run by the inmates of the Shining Path. Inside, they were training new members and there were no authorities and no locks. Hammer and sickle communist flags flew inside the walls, showing who was really in charge.
We discussed the lasting impact that the Shining Path left on Peru and how it ties in with the greater history of the Spanish conquest. According to Macquarrie, the polarization of politics in Peru is something that dates back to the class structures set in place by the Spanish conquerors.
How was it possible that Pizarro conquered the Incan Empire of millions of people with only 168 men? In his book The Last Days of the Incas, Macquarrie tells the whole story and it’s definitely worth a read. The Spanish had steel weapons, horses, and guns, which the Incas lacked. The Incas were a warrior empire themselves who had conquered many different groups within the region. And the empire was as diverse and consisted of many different ethnic groups and languages.
Kim Macquarrie actually had the chance to live with and study a tribe in the Amazon that was recently contacted and had been isolated for many generations. He talked about the tragedy as they try to integrate into modern society.
I asked Kim what he thought about the theory that Machu Picchu and other large monuments were built by Ancient Aliens, and he explained why he doesn’t think those theories hold water when you look at the archeological record.
Kim is also the founder of Green Our Planet, a charity that helps bring gardens into schools to educate children about the wonders of the world. Kim has done so many things and is such an interesting guy. It was such a pleasure to be able to speak with him after enjoying his books so much. Visit his website for more info.
4 Replies to “Ep. 49 – Kim Macquarrie: The Incan Empire, Peruvian History, and the Amazon”
Another great episode!