Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu

Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu - Christopher Heaney I must say at the outset that I wanted to be able to rate this book higher than I ultimately did. I found the quality of the writing to be choppy, and it wasn't until the last third of the book that it was really able to hold my interest (proof of this is that I finished and reviewed at least half a dozen other books in the same timeframe as I started this one -- including two that were *significantly* longer).It's really a pity, because Hiram Bingham's story should be presented in the interesting fashion that it deserves. The so-called "scientific discoverer" of Machu Picchu was an adventuring son of missionaries; marrying into the Tiffany & Co. fortune afforded him the opportunity to travel all over the world as a gentleman explorer (I am hesitant to refer to him as an archaeologist).Bingham's work depended on the exploitation of Peruvian labor (allowable under law at the time), but even then there were laws against exporting artifacts from that country. So, Bingham struck a deal in which the government in which any items he took out of the country were on loan and would be returned upon request. That wasn't the end of the story, of course. Items were poorly catalogued, if at all, and were shipped to Yale via means as varied as steamer trunks, crates and hand luggage. (This is to say nothing of private collections that were purchased and smuggled out of the country.)As we approach the centenary of Bingham's discovery of Machu Picchu, Peru has been requesting the return of the loaned artifacts for nearly 80 years to no avail. There have been numerous articles in the newspaper of late about the matter, and I have no doubt that Heaney and his publishing company have carefully timed the release of this book to coincide with that historical finding.(Review based on uncorrected advance proof.)