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The Discovery And Conquest Of Mexico Paperback – January 20, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0306813191 ISBN-10: 030681319X Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reprint edition (January 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030681319X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306813191
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #787,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The most complete and trustworthy of the chronicles of the Conquest." -- New York Times

About the Author

Bernal Diaz del Castillo fought in over one hundred battles against Mexico. His account of the conquest is one of only four firsthand accounts.

Customer Reviews

This book is gripping and easy to read.
When word of this omen reached the ears of the great Aztec leader Montezuma in Tenochtitlan (Mexico City), he wept in panic.
Christopher B. Jonnes
His book is very readable and he is a natural story teller.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on February 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Several decades ago, as a college sophomore, I was assigned to read Bernal Díaz' work as part of a Latin American history course. The title did not give me much hope. I imagined having to force myself to sit at a desk night after night in order to finish the book. To my great surprise, once I began to read this incredible eye-witness account, I could not put it down. Still, some 38 years later, Bernal Díaz' story, as one of the soldiers who accompanied Cortés, remains forever as one of the best books I have ever read on any subject.
Vivid, eye-witness description of the whole story of the Conquest of Mexico in 1519 will rivet you to the pages, if you have even the slightest sense of history or desire to imagine strange events in faroff places. Here is the tale of how the Spanish soldiers, led by Cortés, despite tremendous odds, toppled an ancient civilization, destroying it utterly, and began a new society that would eventually become modern Mexico. Where else are you going to read words like these, describing the Spaniards' first arrival in Tenochtitlan, which would become Mexico City ? "When we saw so many cities and villages built both in the water and on dry land, and this straight, level causeway, we couldn't restrain our admiration. It was like the enchantments told about in the book of Amadis, because of the high towers, temples, and other buildings, all of masonry, which rose from the water. Some of our soldiers asked if what we saw was not a dream." Alliances, intrigues, battles, retributions, strange gods and the clash of utterly different cultures fill this amazing book. If you have any fondness for history, if you have any curiosity about vanished civilizations, if you would like to ponder about Fate with more substance than usual (!), then Bernal Díaz is your man. Do not pass this book by.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By 72770.2135@compuserve.com on April 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
Let me share with you one of the most beautiful reveiws of Bernal's epic, writen by the great Guatemalan writer and poet Luis Cardoza y Aragón (from his book "Guatemala: The Lines of Her Palm", translated into English by Michelle Suderman): I started leafing through The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico at my student's desk, at night by lamplight. I skimmed summaries, the odd page, then began my reading in an orderly fashion. Tirelessly, I penetrated further and further into the enchanted forest, mesmerized by the story and by this encounter with my warrior culture, with the conquest. I was entering a distant and fascinating world. I witnessed and experienced the legendary campaign. I saw and heard it. I smelled its odor of iron, gunpowder and tired bodies. I was awed by the descriptions of Tenochtitlan, the markets and Moctezuma's court. The blood looked fresh on the steps of the pyramids. As Humboldt points out, the exhilaration of a newly discovered world is better transmitted by chroniclers than by poets. My first contact with this work was positively prodigious. Exhaustion came after reading for many hours without being able to stop. Captivated by descriptions and memories, I kept going, reading a little more, just a little more. I finally left off when the light of the new day began singing in my window. This is the most comprehensive work on the conquest of America, though it speaks only of New Spain. It contains a wealth of information, and details of all orders, that we do not find in posterior writings on related events-not even adding them together. It was written in Antigua Guatemala, where Díaz del Castillo took up residence in 1545 at the age of forty-nine, and where he died in 1584 after having lived there for about thirty-nine years.Read more ›
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By William J. Higgins,III on February 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
A very graphic, realistic and shuddering account of the discovery and conquest of Mexico by one who witnessed this major historical event from 1517 to 1521.

Although a lengthy narrative, the reader will find themself vehemently ripping through the pages of Bernal Diaz' reminiscences while anticipating the next turn of events. With a plethora of plot twists, there is never a sluggish moment.

Prior to his experiences with Cortes on the conquest of Mexico, Diaz gives us an account of his two previous expeditions with Cordova and Grijalva to the east coast of Central America from 1517-1518. Battles were fought, different cultures were found, and gold was discovered among the indigenous people. This beaconed the governor of Cuba to send Cortes to these lands for `settlement', with the fundamental motivation for the quest of riches.

We read of how Cortes and his men fought many battles on the trail to Montezuma's city of gold. Cortes was indeed a smooth talker, always attempting peace efforts first by making promises and talking flattery while distributing gifts to the Indian tribes he met along the way, all the time with the underlying theme of Christianity. This lead to a growing number of Indian allies, who for the most part had developed a deep-seated hatred for Montezuma due to his unmerciful plundering of villages for human sacrifices to please their gods. Cortez, after nearly losing main battles to overtake Tenochtitlan (Mexico City), finally comes in with 150,000 Indian allies to conquer the city of gold.
For the armchair adventure seeker, this book has it all.
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