Charles F. Walker, "Witness to the Age of Revolution: The Odyssey of Juan Bautista Tupac Amaru" (Oxford UP, 2020)


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Charles F. Walker’s Witness to the Age of Revolution: The Odyssey of Juan Bautista Tupac Amaru, 2020, is part of Oxford University Press’ Graphic History Series, which takes serious archival research and puts it into a comic format. For this volume, the brilliant Liz Clarke illustrated Dr. Walker’s biography of a ½ brother of José Gabriel Condorcanqui Tupac Amaru, the leader of the 1780-1783 Tupac Amaru Rebellion. Juan Bautista was a relatively minor figure in the revolt who was arrested with scores of others in the Spanish repression of the rebellion but was not executed. Instead he spent decades in brutal confinement on three different continents. His life interacts with several phases of the Age of Revolution and offers a subaltern perspective on the era. Listeners should find the Latin American angle on the Age of Revolution particularly enlightening. Witness to the Age of Revolution does a stunning job at literally illustrating the sprawling Spanish empire from Peru to Argentina and Cadiz and on to North Africa. Liz Clarke’s gorgeous artwork bring images of Iberian colonialism to life in vivid color. We also get a solid introduction to maritime history as Juan Bautista is transported halfway around the world. Witness to the Age of Revolution is a fascinating story, comparable to the tales of the Man in the Iron mask as told by Alexandre Dumas. Walker’s account of Juan Bautista’s suffering, the friendship between the Andean prisoner and an Augustinian priest, and the rebel finally achieved his freedom will engross readers.

Charles Walker is Professor of History and the Director of the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas at the University of California, Davis, who has held a MacArthur Foundation Endowed Chair in International Human Rights.

Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford, 2018). When he’s not quietly reading or happily talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.

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