A solid new history of the Peruvian Indian revolutionary lays out the roots of his rebellion and its bitter legacy.
Historian Walker (Univ. of Cal., Davis; Shaky Colonialism: The 1746 Earthquake-Tsunami in Lima, Peru, and Its Long Aftermath, 2008, etc.) admits that a “torrent of studies” exists on the Tupac Amaru rebellion, although most in Spanish and outdated. His straightforward account looks beyond the death of the rebel leader, on May 18, 1781, barely seven months after the start of the uprising, to the subsequent and bloodier foment led by his cousin Diego Cristobal and others during the next year. Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguera (1738–1781) descended from the royal line near Cuzco; his forebear and namesake, Tupac Amaru, was executed by the conquering Spanish in 1572. His royal ancestry proved a galvanizing force to his leadership among the Quechua people, who believed that another Incan chief was destined to reappear. Inheriting the role of kuraka, or indigenous tax collector, from his father, he was a landowner and trader, educated and a speaker of Quechua and Spanish alike; he was well-liked and accepted by all classes. Yet, he was deeply sympathetic to the Indians, crushed under the Spanish taxes. Married to Micaela Bastidas, who was a full partner to Tupac’s enterprises and eventually a proficient logistical leader of the rebellion, Tupac became radicalized after being defeated in the courts. Walker stresses the important role of the church leaders. While Tupac did not present a revolutionary platform, he underscored the injustice of the Spanish administrators and never deviated from his views that he acted on behalf of King Charles III. Ultimately, there was a total crackdown on the indigenous population and near obliteration of its language and culture.
A readable, not-too-scholarly story of a significant moment in South American history.