Author of many books on the Maya, Aztec and Inca civilizations, ethnographer, archaeological historian, explorer and photographer, Victor von Hagen here presents a pre-Columbian civilization, rediscovered- almost by chance- in the 18th century. While the photographs of artifacts- 120 in black and white, 19 in color -- are vital to the book, the text is its most revealing contribution, in presenting the Mochica and Chimu tribes of the desert coast of Peru. The land and its people, the tribal life and organization, the inter-tribal wars and the ultimate conquest by the Spaniards -- all are recorded in the pottery and ceramics, in the weaving, in the representations of architecture, even in the skeletal remains. One learns the intricate interrelation of accumulated data, and the whole pattern of a civilization emerges,- a theocracy, with an amazingly advanced system of roads, fortifications, defenses. Heyerdahl brought to light a good deal about the balsa rafts of the Peruvian coast people; here we find further evidence of their use, for trade routes. Great cities have left their records, temples and pyramids have disclosed their religion and death rites. Original sources added to extensive travel and observation have combined to give this the fascination of an authentic- and beautifully produced book on an ancient culture.