The Tupac Amaru Rebellion

Tupac Amaru II, the late-eighteenth-century leader of the Peruvian rebellion against the Spanish crownCharles F. Walker has written the latest book on the Tupac Amaru’s Rebellion, and it is relevant to the history of the Atlantic World and the Caribbean because it explains well the complex colonial world of the Americas and situates the event within the broader context of hemispheric relations (The Americas to Africa and Europe). Additionally, it serves as an example of a powerful synthesis, modern use of archival material and of a lucid prose that has adopted terms and imagines from current cyber culture and global popular culture (i.e., reference to Hollywood and terms like “out-of-sync”).

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Tupac Amaru's RebellionWalker, Charles F. The Tupac Amaru Rebellion.Cambridge, Massachusetts : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014.

See Elliot’s full and helpful review in the New York Review of Books

Below is Feinberg’s short review:

The Tupac Amaru Rebellion by Charles F. Walker. Belknap Press, 2014, 376 pp. $29.95.

Empires that try to coerce their colonial subjects into financing their overseas ambitions do so at their own peril, as both George III of the United Kingdom and Charles III of Spain learned. In Peru in 1780, anger over rising Spanish taxes and the many abuses of the Spanish colonial authorities spurred a Jesuit-educated, middle-class, indigenous merchant who called himself Tupac Amaru–claiming to descend from the last ruler of the Incan Empire–to organize an armed rebellion with the assistance of his wife, Micaela Bastidas. But as Walker explains, the Spanish authorities quickly and ruthlessly quelled the indigenous uprising: Tupac Amaru lacked organizational skills and a clear vision and made major tactical errors, including failing to seize the strategically vital city of Cuzco. During the course of the ethnically polarized struggle, the rebels were unable to win enough public support to survive, and the powerful Catholic Church sided with the colonial authorities. Superior Spanish firepower and brutality proved decisive, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 100,000 people. To succeed, anticolonial rebellions typically require assistance from geopolitical rivals. But for reasons that Walker does not fully explore, the British showed no interest in aiding Tupac Amaru’s challenge to the United Kingdom’s rivals in Spain.

Feinberg, Richard

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2014 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.
Source Citation
Feinberg, Richard. “The Tupac Amaru Rebellion.” Foreign Affairs Sept.-Oct. 2014. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.


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