No one needs to tell my dear friend Betsy Wills to lean in! She has managed a family and high-test career with energy and enthusiasm to spare. She is hard-working, fun-loving, and terrifically smart. Most recently, she co-founded YouScience, an educational consulting company that helps students identify their talents and consider academic and career options. In May, she co-chaired the Frist Gala, one of the many major fund-raisers she’s lent her time and talent over the years. This one really spoke to her heart: Betsy is passionate about art. Check out her beautiful blog, Artstormer.com. BaconOnTheBookshelf would not exist without Betsy’s guidance and encouragement, for which I am so grateful.
A few other facts about Betsy: Give her a summer tomato and she is happy. She has no regrets about her twenties; in fact, she’s trying to live her forties with the same enthusiasm and optimism. Her favorite books from childhood were those in the Ant and Bee series. She describes the series as “classic British hijinks, miniature in size, with sweet and comical illustrations.” She remembers studying them for hours. Don’t dare play a game of charades with Betsy and her husband Ridley. They take pride in cooking up “menacing assignments” for their opponents, “the more esoteric the better!” The best advice she’s ever received is to Be Particular.
Today, after a recent journey to Machu Picchu, she reviews Mark Adams’ Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time.
From Betsy: Unraveling the story behind Pre-Columbian America will keep archeologists, academics, and travelers busy for the next millennium. It’s pretty clear the New World had hundreds of millions of inhabitants who were members of evolved and sophisticated cultures. Sadly, the Spanish Conquistadors were able, by force and by accident, to destroy them in short order. The introduction of diseases was the mightiest albeit unintentional weapon; paired with religious zealotry and greed, native people didn’t stand a chance.
Fortunately, the engineering prowess of the Inca and their predecessors provides undeniable evidence of a brilliant and beautiful culture.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu, by Mark Adams, chronicles a modern-day writer’s journey along the Inca Trail. Central to the book is the story of famed explorer Hiram Bingham’s early nineteenth century path to the “scientific discovery” of Machu Picchu high in the Andes mountain range. Bingham was driven by curiosity and a healthy dose of ego. His ability to tell a story was the necessary ingredient to rally funders around his explorations. With the backing of National Geographic, he whetted the appetite of the armchair adventurer and ignited interest in the Inca culture and most importantly, Machu Picchu.
Last week, I gazed in awe at the majesty of the site, but was left with far more questions than answers. On my nightstand are both 1491 and 1493 by Charles C. Mann. Both are comprehensive studies of the Americas pre- and post-Columbus’ landing. If this subject interests you as well, be assured you are in the company of many other present day explorers who will be unearthing more wondrous discoveries in the coming decades.