Chachapoya Gourd
Critic's Corner: What the critics are saying about Warriors of the Clouds
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"Occupying the rugged terrain separating the Marañon and Huallaga basins, the Chachapoyas area is famous in Andean circles as a reservoir of "lost civilizations" still understudied from the standpoint of scientific archaeology. In this odyssey based on over 20 years of study and exploration, Keith Muscutt brings Chachapoyas into focus with engaging prose and spectacular photographs of spectacularly beautiful landscapes.

There is something here for everyone. Andeanists will profit from the splendid color plates of cliff-side tombs untendentiously juxtaposed with seemingly unstaged shots of modern-day village life. Vincent Lee's maps of the imposing site of Vira Vira as well as an updated Chachapoyas bibliography, compiled by Douglas Sharon and Muscutt, are an added bonus. Naturalists will revel in the forest-choked decilivites, azure high-altitude lakes, and orchid-studded ceja vegetation captured by Muscutt's camera. Biographically oriented readers will be captivated by adventures tracking the legendary and reclusive Benigno Añazco, a figure right out of magical realism. Only the dullest of readers could leave this book without pangs of wanderlust.

The archaeology of the Chachapoyas region remains poorly understood. Although an Inkan and early colonial presence is documented, much of the imposing architectural and mortuary record floats in "late prehistory." Archaeologists may be frustrated by Muscutt's quick dismissal of the "plain" and "rudimentary" (p. 35) pottery, but such frustration should only serve to fuel work in an area that promises to bridge the ancient Andean and Amazonian worlds, a bridge perhaps more routinely crossed in prehistory than in the sundered research traditions of modern archaeology. In clear and modest prose (the "lost civilization" of the title is disavowed in the text) and with a stunning visual feast, Muscutt and colleagues are to be congratulated for tapping the emotional wellsprings that directed most of us to archaeology in the first place."

--Warren DeBoer, Queens College, CUNY

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Warriors of the Clouds has been selected as one of the exceptional books of 1998 by the reviewers of the The A List, AALit, Best Bookworm, Bookman News, and Library Booknotes:

"Of the multitude of fine books reviewed in 1998 in our publications (The A List, AALit, Best Bookworm, Bookman News, and Library Booknotes), each of the following is a suitable candidate for best book of the year, either for elegant writing, exalted time, place and setting, dazzling plot, creative graphics, outstanding research, or innovative literary invention . . . these books represent the best of the year."

--from the pages of Bookman News, Library Booknotes, Best Bookworm, the A List, and American Archives of Literature and Information Technology (AALit)
January 20, 1999

gourd bullet "Your book about the lost civilizations in the Upper Amazon is sensational.  Not only because the beauty of the book, illustrated with your wonderful photographs.  Also because the text written in a fine prose gives global information about the Chachapoyas."

--Federico Kauffman Doig
  Director, Instituto de Arqueología Amazónica
  Lima, Peru

gourd bullet "In the upper Amazon of northern Peru, a spectacular civilization flourished in what is today one of the most remote and inaccesible areas of the world. Its people, known as the Chachapoya, or Cloud People, were conquered by the Inka around A.D. 1475, and shortly thereafter succumbed to the ravages of Spanish colonial rule. Their descendants still inhabit the area, often living near the ruins of their ancestors' buildings. This volume provides a fascinating account of the region, for which very little information has previously been available."

"Written in a wonderfully readable style and accompanied by the author's extraordinary photographs of the people, places, archaeology and beautiful landscape, this book makes the region come alive. Muscutt writes eloquently of a place he loves and allows the reader to experience its magic.  This book is wonderful!"

--Christopher Donnan, University of California, Los Angeles, author of Royal Tombs of Sipan

figure from Chachapoyan gourd

gourd bullet "A pioneering exploration of the archaeology of a largely unknown region.... A first-class explorer's document, it tells a very interesing story of people and places, modern and pre-historic. The text evokes rich images of the author's experience.... I expect the book will be a very popular title anyone who dreams of lost places.... The photographs alone will be a major archive of information about poorly documented sites."

--John W. Rick, Stanford University

gourd bullet "Combines the excitement of exploration with a good historical summary of a neglected society that is attracting increasing scholarly attention."

--John Hemming, author of The Conquest of the Incas

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