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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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The Discovery And Conquest Of Mexico + The Broken Spears:   The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico
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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: 8.7 x 5.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

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Very readable and engaging.
michele
It's not for everyone, but anyone with an interest in history and a love of tales of adventure will enjoy it.
Doug Konkel
We read of how Cortes and his men fought many battles on the trail to Montezuma's city of gold.
William J Higgins III

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tom Potter on March 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
This first hand account of Cortez's conquest of Mexico was written by Bernal Diaz', one of Cortez swordsmen. It is perhaps the most interesting and detailed first hand account of a historical event ever written. Diaz' writes about the battles, Cortez' manipulation of the various Indian tribes and his own men, and he provides intimate details on the personality of Montezuma. It is an exciting, powerful, informative, cover to cover, real-life, adventure.

Another good read on this subject are Cortez's letters to the King. As can be seen, Cortez' was in hot water because he co-opted the expedition to serve his own ends, and he was trying to con (And intimidate) the King into favoring him, rather than the governer of Cuba, from whom he stole the expedition. Cortez' tried to convince the king that he could get millions of indians to follow him, and that they could make brass cannons, gun powder, etc. ( Which by implication, could be used against any forces to bring him to justice.) He also bribed the king by sending him some of the gold that he stole from the indians, and implying the he could send much, much more. As can be seen, one of Cortez' other swordsmen went on to conquer the Incas, by using the same methods that Cortez used against the Aztecs.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Doug Konkel on March 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Discovery and Conuest of Mexico by Bernal Diaz Del Castilo is a tremendous first hand account of one of histories most amazing achievements. Although the ethnocentricity of the Spainard is patently obvious in most of his descriptions, the story of 500 soldiers of fortune conquering an empire of millions in a newly discovered land is easily able to grab the reader's interest. Written in the late 1500's the language is archaic and romanticized,but this serves to make it a book that can appeal to the ordinary reader as well as be a historical source to the academic. It's not for everyone, but anyone with an interest in history and a love of tales of adventure will enjoy it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By yankee-in-ca on June 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
I thought Hugh Thomas's CONQUEST, with its hundreds of sources, included everything there was to know (and his wry British wit makes the tragedy of Montezuma's cowardice read like a novel), but Diaz adds a whole new perspective. Thomas, for example, writes that a Castilian castaway who decided to stay with the Maya, Gonzalo Guerrero, was "ashamed" of his tattoos and pierced body parts. We find out from Diaz's account that this is a gross misinterpretation. Upon hearing of his rescue, Guerrero in fact tells his fellow rescuee, the famous Geronimo de Aguilar, "Are you nuts? I have a wife and three kids! Look at these beautiful children!" Aguilar suggests bringing his family along, but Guerrero's happy with his new life [and has a heroic-sized statue in Yucatan for his leadership against the Spanish - wife and children by his side]. How does the conversation end? Guerrero's Mayan wife does the logical thing and tells Aguilar in no uncertain terms to get the [expletive deleted] out of her house.

Diaz's description of how another Spanish castaway, a dog, bounds joyfully into a Spanish boat "leaps off the page," as it were. Historian Thomas gives us a much broader picture, but leaves out details that would only interest a foot soldier (how one gets a pretty girl for the night at Montezuma's palace, for example). The paperback was translated by someone who isn't an historian, which makes the guileless writing of old Diaz all the more immediate. A must-read for those fascinated by the century between the voyages of the Santa Maria and the Mayflower -- the century when everything interesting happened.
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