Travel adventure in Bolivia and Peru: a lyrical, visually detailed, sometimes magical account of an almost unknown landscape--but the ""sons"" of the title, the Aymara Indians, get short shrift. Ten years ago, at age 18, Englishman Shukman headed for the Altiplano--the high, bleak plateau stretching for about 1,000 miles between ridges of the Andes. Trusting to luck, he hitched rides with infrequently appearing trucks through an empty, unpaved landscape of lethal temperature extremes, hoping ""to see people who led lives entirely unlike mine."" Unfortunately, each time Shukman did come upon scattered communities of Aymara people in Bolivia--descendants of a pre-Columbian Empire--he was met with indifference or hostility; the men looked like drunken idlers, the women like sneering ""witches,"" and so he moved on. As a result, he has a lot more of interest to say about places--in a world where the sun is so hot it has burned lakes away, where the landscape seems to come to glowing life only under the moon--than he does about people. He gets along better once he reaches La Paz and follows a more standard tourist itinerary, taking him through Peru's Quechua Indian region to the ancient Inca center of Cuzco. Vivid travel writing about place--and when Shukman draws on his reading to supplement superficial observation, he provides a good introduction to unexpected cow plexities of Andean history, myth, and custom.