Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs Paperback – July 28, 2009
|New from||Used from|
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"Sweeping and majestic...A pulse-quickening narrative."—Neal Bascomb, author of Red Mutiny: Eleven Fateful Days on the Battleship Potemkin
"A century before the Mayflower, a single man settled the destiny of the Americas far more momentously than the Puritans ever could....Conquistador offers a fascinating account of the first and most decisive of those encounters: the one between the impetuous Spanish adventurer Cortés and Montezuma, the ill-starred emperor of the Aztecs.... [An] almost unbelievable story of missionary zeal, greed, cruelty and courage."—Wall Street Journal
“Drawing heavily on both Spanish and Aztec sources…. [Levy stresses] the military strategy, diplomatic initiaitves, and personal relationship between Cortés and Aztec emperor Montezuma…. Well-written…. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal, starred review
“A fateful meeting of civilizations…. Cortes is front and center in this book…. [Levy’s] description of the final siege on Tenochtitlan is especially dramatic.”—Associated Press
“Explores just how far invaders will go to take what they want.”–Cape Cod Times
More About the Author
As a writer Levy is the author of Geronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior (co-written with Mike Leach--Simon & Schuster, May 6, 2014); River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon (Bantam Dell, 2011). His other books include Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs (Bantam Dell, 2008), which was a finalist for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, 2009, and nominated for the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award, 2009, and the PEN Center USA Award 2009; American Legend: The Real-Life Adventures of David Crockett (Putnam, 2005, Berkley Books, 2006); and Echoes On Rimrock: In Pursuit of the Chukar Partridge (Pruett, 1998). His books have been published in six languages.
As a freelance journalist he has covered adventure sports and lifestyle/travel subjects around the world, including several Eco-Challenges and other adventure expeditions in Argentina, Borneo, Europe, Greenland, Morocco, and the Philippines. His magazine articles and essays have appeared in Alaska Airlines Magazine, Backpacker, Big Sky Journal, Couloir, Discover, Hemispheres, High Desert Journal, Poets & Writers, River Teeth, Ski, Trail Runner, Utne Reader, TV Guide, and VIA. His books have been well reviewed in The A.V. Club, The Wall Street Journal, Kirkus Reviews, The Washington Times, Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal. He is Clinical Professor of English at Washington State University, and lives in northern Idaho with his wife Camie, and his black Labs Dugan and CJ.
Top Customer Reviews
But there's another storyline in the book that I find just as fascinating. The disease of the heart which afflicted Cortes and his men also troubled Montezuma, for the Aztec Empire, despite its achievements in science and art, was also a bloodthirsty machine that subjugated native peoples, sacrified tens of thousands to pitiless gods, and created caste systems in which the many were ground under the feet of the few. What Levy gives us, then, is a double portrait of two invalids suffering from similar illnesses. One, a European captain with fewer than 500 men, the other a divine emperor with life-or-death power over 15 million people. In the end, both of them died from their diseases, Montezuma and his empire literally, Cortes morally and (despite his sporadic religious zealotry) spiritually. Curiously, neither of them seemed to have quite the necessary stamina to survive their illness.
In telling the story of the clash between these two men, Levy explores the tactics by which Cortes managed to defeat Montezuma: a combination of bluster, good luck, superior technology, alliances with disgruntled indigenous peoples, and hard fighting.Read more ›
In my opinion, Hugh Thomas' account Conquest: Montezuma, Cortes, and the Fall of Old Mexico is a far superior piece, succeding in giving a better feel of the clash of two completely different worlds, with the main characters far better placed in their temporal and cultural context.
The Conquest of Mexico was not a single event, it was not the result of disease, treachery, technology, or evil it was a long two year slog of battles won and battles lost. Too often the events surrounding the Conquest are simplified to issues of technology or disease and to a demonizing of the Spaniards. The reality is of course more nuanced and the simplification denigrates all sides.
This book does an admirable job of introducing the History and some of the issues related to the Conquest in an honest way. It draws on sources from all sides, including modern research and legacy studies. It presents the events in a complete enough narrative to tell the story with out getting bogged down in the details, some of which can be quite gory.
There are many other books available on this same topic but they tend to be one-sided or focused n on a single topic. When for instance a writer tries to make the case that Spanish victory was predicated on superior technology the writer would denigrate Spanish tactics, Aztec adaptations to technology and tactics. The focal point of this book is on the two leaders, Cortes and Montezuma.
The image of Cortes presented is a fairly complete image. This image may very well surprise many casual readers. Cortes was a real person and defies simple demonizing. He was physically very brave almost to the point of abject recklessness. The travail he endured is astounding. Cortes did not win every battle he presided over the long retreat from Mexico City and he proved capable of learning and adapting to the methods and abilities of his opponents.Read more ›
Levy writes with the gusto of a great swashbuckling epic, going into vivid detail of each battle and tense meetings of the two sides, while taking care to keep the facts straight. Cortes is lauded as a genius in both military and, more impressively, psychological warfare against the Aztecs, yet criticized for his religious zealotry and moments of shocking cruelty. Montezuma and his followers are depicted not as primitive jungle people, but as a highly advanced civilization commanding their empire from the beautiful Technotitlan (at the time, the most populated city on the planet) who were nonetheless overcome by the deadly triumvirate of horses, smallpox, and firearms.
This book makes for a fantastic companion piece to "Guns, Germs and Steel"; where that landmark book explains *why* the civilizations of the Americas were at an inherent disadvantage to Eurasian civilizations, this book shows us the results of millenia of separate cultural evolutions.
Or, in short, why the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, when if only a few variables had been different, the opposite could well have happened.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was quite impressed with the details provided. There were some modern sources that came after Prescott's masterwork on this topic, and I am glad for this new information. Read morePublished 10 days ago by F. Newton
Reads like you're watching a good movie. However, the author is a pro-PC history revisionist and it is evident in this book that he was only superficially familiar with the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bub Script
This is a fascinating retelling of the conquest of Mexico by Hernan Cortez. I leaned an great deal and was thoroughly entertained. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Silver52
Extremely interesting and compelling narrative that is thorough without being tedious.Published 2 months ago by Stephen
An excellent resource for studies on the conquest of the Aztecs. Levy brings a nice chronological sequence of events and battles with vivid details from both Aztec and Spanish... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Brett Stortroen
An informative overview of the Cortes Aztec conquest. Well written and a pleasure to read!!Published 4 months ago by Gary
A good and enjoyable read. Unfortunately, Buddy Levy's expertise is in crafting a narrative and some focus is lost on the historical accuracy. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ben
An awesome work. If only all history books were written like this. It reads like a gripping suspense novel. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Karl Rohde