I'd like to nominate The Conquest of the Incas
by John Hemming.
The blurb from Goodreads:
On 25 September 1513, a force of weary Spanish explorers cut through the forests of Panama and were confronted by an ocean: the Mar del Sur, or the Pacific Ocean. Six years later the Spaniards had established the town of Panama as a base from which to explore and exploit this unknown sea. It was the threshold of a vast expansion.
The Conquest of the Incas, John Hemming's masterly and highly acclaimed account of one of the most exciting conquests known to history, has never been surpassed. From the first small band of Spanish adventurers to enter the mighty Inca empire to the execution of the last Inca forty years later, it is the story of bloodshed, infamy, rebellion and extermination, told as convincingly as if it happened yesterday.
The 2012 e-book edition includes an extensive revision and update of the text, bibliography, notes and other end-material, to report the latest theories and discoveries. It also has a new appendix about recent finds of Inca ruins in Vilcabamba.
The Amazon blurb cites several reviews:
“Distinguished by an extraordinary empathy, a feeling of one’s way into the minds of the sixteenth-century Spaniards and Indians . . . Provocative.” — New York Times
“An extraordinary book. Combining rigorous historical research and profound analysis with stylistic elegance, this work allows the reader to appreciate the tragic and fabulous history of the Incan empire in all its richness and diversity. It reads like the most skillful novel.” — Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature
In 1532, the magnificent Inca empire was the last great civilization still isolated from the rest of humankind. The Conquest of the Incas is the definitive history of this civilization’s overthrow, from the invasion by Pizarro’s small gang of conquistadors and the Incas’ valiant attempts to expel the invaders to the destruction of the Inca realm, the oppression of its people, and the modern discoveries of Machu Picchu and the lost city of Vilcabamba. This authoritative, wide-ranging account, grounded in meticulous research and firsthand knowledge and told from the viewpoints of both protagonists, “keeps all the complex issues to the fore . . . the deeper wonder of the conquest and the deeper horror of its results” (Washington Post).
“The bible for historians and archaeologists studying the final days of the Inca. For the past thirty years, The Conquest of the Incas has remained the most influential book for Inca scholars. There is no other book which is even in the same class.” — Brian S. Bauer, professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, leading archaeologist of the Inca