- Paperback: 152 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 14, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195379381
- ISBN-13: 978-0195379389
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.4 x 4.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Aztecs: A Very Short Introduction 1st Edition
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About the Author
Davíd Carrasco is the Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America at Harvard University. For his scholarship in Mesoamerican religions and his work on Mexican American culture he received the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle.
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Carrasco sometimes engages in long passages of weasel words like this:
"That the Aztecs practiced ritual human sacrifice is beyond doubt, but it is also clear that Spanish chroniclers exaggerated the numbers and purposes of these sacrifices as a strategy to justify their own conquests and prodigious violence against Mesoamerican men, women, and children. Scholarship also reveals that many ancient cultures including the Romans, Greeks, Japanese, Chinese, Africans, Andeans, and Egyptians practiced human sacrifice, often in very large numbers. Even though the Aztec image in Western thought ranks them as the biggest sacrificers in the world, there is no substantial archaeological or documentary proof that they ritually killed more people than other civilizations."
Carrasco then spends twenty pages talking about Mexica human sacrifice, far more than you'd find on most introductory books on the Romans, Greeks, etc. You can't have it both ways. (Likewise, he announces "Mexica" as more accurate than "Aztec" at the beginning of the book but goes on to use "Aztec" anyway.)
To be fair, there is "no substantial proof" for *many* things about the Mexica, but scholarly hypotheses have tended toward seeing Mexica culture as more oriented around human sacrifice than, for example, the Inca. Why couldn't he say that? He correctly says that the physically impossible account of sacrificing 80,000 warriors in 4 days is almost certainly false, but he attributes it to Spanish propaganda "to justify their conquests," neglecting to mention that the figure comes from Diego Duran, one of the Spaniards *most* sympathetic to the Mexica (he learned Nahuatl), preferring to convert them rather than kill them. It's imperialism either way, but Carrasco tramps on the details.
Instead, I'd recommend The Aztecs, Inga Clendinnen's speculative but gripping Aztecs: An Interpretation, the older The Aztecs, a History, and the even older Daily Life of the Aztecs (Native American)