Reviews of Cradle of Gold


"Hiram Bingham and the Machu Picchu saga deserve no less than Cradle of Gold, Christopher Heaney's thorough, engrossing portrait of a mercurial figure at a crucial juncture of his life."

Alvaro Vargas Llosa 
The Wall Street Journal

 "Heaney tells Bingham's fascinating story well. But this excellent book is more than just a rollicking adventure tale – it is also a nuanced study of conflicting claims on history."

David Evans 
The Financial Times

"Christopher Heaney tells the Hiram Bingham story with a beauty and meticulousness that would have flattered the explorer’s Andes-sized ego—that is, had Bingham looked beyond the sharp critique that drives this narrative."

Willie Hiatt
A Contra Corriente

"A well-researched and very readable biography of Bingham…[Heaney] probes the depths of Bingham's work and character, examining setbacks, scandals, and achievements and skillfully unraveling Bingham's role in the controversy that still exists today between the government of Peru and Yale University over the ownership of the Machu Picchu burials and artifacts."

Library Journal

"Offers a wealth of information."

The Chronicle of Higher Education

"A fascinating work of narrative history that combines careful research with a subtle portrait of a man of great contradictions. Hiram Bingham was an explorer, adventurer, extraordinary scholar, U.S. Senator, and, in the eyes of many, high-handed thief. Heaney's highly readable book at last gives him his due."

Adam Hochschild
author of King Leopold's Ghost

"Full of intriguing detail and carefully researched, this is a fitting testimony to one of the greatest of American explorers."

Hugh Thomson
author of The White Rock

"Cradle of Gold brilliantly tells the story of how Hiram Bingham revealed Machu Picchu to the world. Chris Heaney combines dogged research with a gift for storytelling and a historian's rich and nuanced understanding of his subject's times. Bingham emerges as a complex, even tragic figure who, for all his faults, generated real excitement about Peru's past as no one had before. Heaney beautifully and skillfully captures the cultural clash between Bingham and his Peruvian hosts, without for a moment losing the momentum of this gripping story. The result is an immensely compelling tale of exploration and exploitation that has waited nearly a century for the right chronicler. In Chris Heaney, Bingham's story has finally found it."

Roger Atwood
author of Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World

"Cradle of Gold is a wonderfully moving account of those who invented and reinvented three cities nestled deep in the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes: Vitcos, Vilcabamba, and Macchu Picchu. It is also a subtle, penetrating study of the imperial hubris of early twenty-century US archeology as it traces the origins of Yale's misbegotten collections of Peruvian “antiquities.” It is a powerfully argued ethical call for the “skulls and bones” of hundreds of both humble and powerful Andeans to be returned to Peru, to their original, ancient, resting grounds, not to museums of natural history, where they do not belong."

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra
Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin, author of Puritan Conquistadors: Iberianizing the Atlantic, 1550-1700

"An unforgettable journey into the heart of Peru's past that takes the reader on a hunt for the lost cities of the Incas, the famous Machu Picchu among them. It's also a sensitively written portrait of Hiram Bingham, one of the last great explorers of our time--a man set on fulfilling his destiny--and a judicious historical account of the disenfranchisement of the Peruvian people, who had their heritage stolen by those claiming to protect it."

Peter Nichols
author of Final Voyage and A Voyage for Madmen

"Cradle of Gold illuminates Bingham's stunning and controversial discovery-and singular life-with gripping pacing and vivid detail. The book's young author, Christopher Heaney, is a notable discovery in his own right."

Jim Rasenberger
author of America, 1908

"Hiram Bingham's excavation of Machu Picchu in the early twentieth century is one of the most intriguing stories in a crowded era of exploration."

Candice Millard
author of The River of Doubt

“Biography and history blend together in this excellently chronicled account of Hiram Bingham and his early 20th century exploration of Peru and his search for three cities, one of which is Machu Picchu, buried deep in the eastern slopes of the Andes mountains. Explorer, adventurer, scholar, and sometimes labeled as a thief, Bingham was possessed by stories relating to the lost cities of the Incan Empire. The son of a missionary family living in Hawaii and converting the islands' natives to Christianity, Bingham completed his education at Yale University and later married into the wealthy Tiffany family whose money enabled him a leisurely life and provided large monetary sums to help finance his explorations and exploitations of Peru. Bingham's excavation of Machu Picchu unearthed a treasury of valuable artifacts which were brought back to the US and displayed at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. The Peruvian government soon waged a complaint against Bingham and Yale, saying their country was robbed of its ancient heritage and demanded a return of everything that had been removed from the Andean sites, thus beginning a battle that has continued in US courts for nearly a century. Heaney's detailed narrative probes deep into this controversial explorer's work and character, providing the reader with a gripping portrait of a man driven by his own destiny. Highly recommend.”

The Bookshelf Bookstore
Truckee, CA