||The Andes form the backbone of South America. Irradiating from Cuzco--the symbolic "navel" of the indigenous world--the mountain range was home to an extraordinary theocratic empire and civilization, the Incas, who built stone temples, roads, palaces, and forts. The clash between Atahualpa, the last Inca, and the illiterate conquistador Pizarro, between indigenous identity and European mercantile values, has forged Andean culture and history for the last 500 years. Jason Wilson explores the 5,000-mile chain of volcanoes, deep valleys, and upland plains, revealing the Andes' mystery, inaccessibility, and power through the insights of chroniclers, scientists, and modern-day novelists. His account starts at sacred Cuzco and Machu Picchu, moves along imagined Inca routes south to Lake Titicaca, La Paz, Potosi, and then follows the Argentine and Chilean Andes to Patagonia. It then moves north through Chimborazo, Quito, and into Colombia, along the Cauca Valley up to Bogota and east to Caracas. Looking at the literature inspired by the Andes as well as its turbulent history, this book brings to life the region's spectacular landscapes and the many ways in which they have been imagined.