The remarkable civilization of the Incas reached a zenith between 1300 and 1500, and its influence was felt all over Peru and also in neighbour countries. The fascination of Inca culture was enhanced by its romantic 'locale', apparently so remote from European civilization, yet soon to be savagely invaded by the Spaniards. Prescott revealed the splendours of Inca life to a world largely in ignorance of them, and recent research has added little to what he then discovered of the secrets of'the children of the sun', whose empire stretched apparently endlessly along South America's Pacific coast. Prescott can be read both as authentic history and as a tale of adventure on the grand scale with tragedy at its end. His colourful and eloquent descriptions ensure that his subject pulses with life, and we see the astonishing Inca capital, Cuzco, reared on its 1,800-feet pinnacle, the advanced agricultural methods of its countryside, its noble buildings, its temples glowing with Inca gold, its laws and systems worthy of an imperial people - 'a pageant that can have few equals'.