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The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico Paperback – May 4, 1992

ISBN-13: 004-6442055017 ISBN-10: 0807055018 Edition: Exp Upd Su

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 187 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Exp Upd Su edition (May 4, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807055018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807055014
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fascinating and moving native Aztec descriptions of Cortez's conquest of Mexico. First collected in 1962, now in a new expanded and updated edition.

Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A moving and powerful account, a unique reading experience which should not be missed by any reader interested in history." -Los Angeles Times

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Enrique Torres VINE VOICE on July 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent primary source of information written fron the Aztecs viewpoint. Bernal Diaz's book is an excellent companion study to compare the different perspectives of both primary parties involved. The illustrations and the narrative are very elementary, an easy read with simple drawings to compliment the text. The viewpoint, which is the Aztecs is interesting and different from what you might suppose. If you are intersted in Pre-Columbian culture in Mexico this is a fundamental book covering the Conquest of Mexico. For a balanced view read this along with Bernal Diaz's book to get a complete picture from participants of that fateful time in history when the Old World collided with the New World to create a new culture. A must have book for anyone into Mexico and it's roots.
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63 of 75 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on December 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
There are two sides to every story, and in history you usually only hear the victor's side. In standard Western-based histories of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, you are usually only told that Cortes and a few hundred valiant soldiers easily conquered the Aztec empire of several hundred thousand people. Another fallacy is that the Aztecs rolled over so easily because they thought the white men were gods returning from the sea. As can be seen in this book, this was true at first, but most of the Aztecs (except for the priests) quickly changed their opinion on the Spaniards when they saw their brutality and greed. The Spaniards also weren't such efficient conquerors - they had help from many thousands of natives who were the historical enemies of the Aztecs, especially the Tlaxcaltecas and Tezcocanos (they suffered just the same in the long run). Not to mention a handy smallpox epidemic that killed off a large chunk of the native population. This book (and countless others) shows that the soldiers were not driven by religious valor, hoping to save people in God's good name. Instead, they were driven by a greed for gold so virulent that they cried when they saw it, and a lust for heroism that could only be obtained through violent conquest.
This book is a useful introduction to the native view of this important event. After reading these accounts along with more traditional history texts, you will have sufficient knowledge of both sides of the story to reach your own balanced conclusions. Portilla mostly avoids editorializing (except for a few slip-ups), and simply presents the native accounts without embellishment.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
This work provides native Aztec tellings of the Spanish conquest under Cortez. The selections are presented chronologically, with typically two versions of each incident. The book itself is well done and not difficult to read, with some copies of native illustrations. Although this work cannot be compared to the vivid, first person account of Diaz, it does provide some interesting inside information on the Aztec reaction and their first impressions of the new arrivals. The final chapter brings the struggle of the native vanquished to light by quoting written sources through the 20th century. Unfortunately making the historical implications much too political. Still it is a well done and thoughtful book.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Joseph K. Dittmer on August 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
I got this book because I find pre-columbian Mesoamerica fascinating, and I also enjoy the vivid clash of cultures which occured when the Spaniards arrived there. This book describes the conflict between the Aztecs and Spaniards superbly! This book is somewhat unique among histories because it takes the point of view of the vanquished rather than the victors. It starts from before the Spaniards arrive with eerie premonitions of eminent doom to the fall of Tenochtitlan and the suffering associated with that, then proceeds to give a short account of the plight of the native Nahuas after the conquest. Leon-Portilla uses a vast array of native sources from the Florentine Codex to the Cantares Mexicanos(which consists of Native American songs about the conquest), and combines them to create a lively and pleasant read, and its fairly short length add to its overall unburdensome style. In fact for me this book was harder not to read than to read. The tale is full of lively adventure, fascinting omens and cultural tidbits(such as the Aztec dedication to human sacrifice and their belief that the Spaniards were gods), violence, and sorrow. This book is a must for the Aztec fan, the conquistador fan, or anyone who likes an engaging story that just happens to be history.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Oz Thomas on May 16, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Broken Spears is the story of the conquest of Mexico, as told by the conquered: the citizens of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco. It's a beautiful book that reads something like an epic, with all the elements of tragedy, comedy and poetry. The passages are taken from different accounts and codices and translated into English.
It starts out with the omens foretelling the coming of the Spaniards and ends with the elegies on the fallen city. There are quite a few illustrations and poems, all of which are beautiful. Some of the accounts read somewhat contradictorily, but I suppose that is to be expected, as most of these accounts were probably recorded orally.
If you are at all interested in the history of the Aztecs, Mexico or Cortes, this book is a must read. It's not so often we get such a glimpse into a conquered people, and this book is a great compliment to books such as The Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Diaz.
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