No other city is like Cusco, Peru. It was once the beating heart of the Inca world, a heart seized by Iberian invaders who occupied its sacred center beginning in 1533. Its layered stories can be sensed today, within both cloisters and chifas (Chinese-Peruvian restaurants), in plazas and along streets where a walker can run her hand along the cool weathered surfaces of Inca andesite, the coarser stones reworked after the arrival of Europeans, the white-plastered walls and slick wooden portals of Spanish casonas, the modern neo-Inca walls, and sleek commercial construction. As a living city, heritage site, and monument to multiple imperial projects, Cusco is quick to intrigue but fast to evade any endeavor to know it completely. Many books have been written about its histories and unique built environment. None of those books is like Michael...

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