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Cities of Gold: A Novel of the Ancient and Modern Southwest Hardcover – November 16, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“An important novel about American heritage, part history and part mystery. Bill Hartmann tells a splendid tale of the first European expeditions into the American Southwest and links it to a modern adventure. He explores the uses of history in our often surreal world and dramatizes the inherent conflict between sense of place and the age-old American drive to get rich quick.”—Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under President John F. Kennedy

“Hartmann is both a distinguished scientist and novelist; here, he draws parallel modern and ancient stories together with extraordinary flair and authority. He has a thorough knowledge of the documentary materials from the 1530s, and has traveled extensively in search of the Marcos route. The reader is left with the feeling, ‘Yes, it could have happened just like that!’”—Carroll L. Riley Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Southern Illinois University, author of The Frontier People and Rio del Norte

Cities of Gold is a well-rounded treatment of the mystery of Marcos de Niza. The book weaves together two stories, one modern and one 450 years old, playing them against each other in a way that gives more depth and life to both.”—Richard Flint, lead editor of The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva: The 1540–1542 Route Across the Southwest

About the Author

William K. Hartmann, first winner of the Carl Sagan Medal, is the author of the novel Mars Underground and many highly regarded popular and academic scientific works; his photo-essay book, Desert Heart, is a hauntingly beautiful testament to the Southwest he loves. A planetary scientist, he lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1 edition (November 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765301121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765301123
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.8 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,756,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Cities of Gold is an absolute must read particularly for Coronado and Marcos de Niza aficionados. Hartmann brilliantly weaves 16th century Southwest history with 20th century Southwest mystery to postulate a fresh and thought provoking hypothesis on Marcos.
In 1538, two years before Coronado's entrada, Marcos set out into what the Spanish referred to as the "northern mystery". In a sense he entered the "northern mystery" to solve a mystery--that is, the location of the Seven Cities of Cibola. What _really_ happened on Marcos' journey and what was his path through the Southwest remains an unsolved mystery in and of itself--or does it?
[four centuries later ...]
In 1989 Kevin Scott (Hartmann's lead fictional character) sets out to solve the mystery of Marcos. Kevin has recently joined a Tucson-based land developer who is planning "Coronado Estates" outside of Willcox, Arizona. The land developer wants Kevin to determine if "Coronado Estates" intersects with 16th century history by determining if Marcos (and later Coronado) "marched right across our property". Let the sleuthing begin ...
Hartmann is a renowned expert on Marcos de Niza and Cities of Gold is packed with meticulously researched quotes and translations from participants and historians. This is an important element of the book because Hartmann equips the reader with sufficient historical evidence to support his hypothesis, leaving the reader satisfied that the Marcos mystery has been solved.
Read it for the history. Read it for the mystery. Either way, I think you'll be absolutely delighted.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you enjoy based-on-fact SW US (colonial Spanish/Mexican) history combined with a compelling contemporary story line, you'll enjoy this. Good characters, and he has a way of making history come alive very realistically.
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Format: Hardcover
I was pulled through this book by the suspense of wondering who would win--the good guys (honest historians) or the bad guys (those who forget the past). In Cities of Gold, William Hartmann applies his talent for lyrical description with a novel structure that blends the age of the Spanish explorers--driven by a search for riches--with the present age of developers--driven by a search for riches. Hartmann demonstrates his expertise on 16th century by juxtaposing the exploring monk, Marcos de Niza with his invented idealistic city planner hired by a developer. The planner's job is to prove that Coronado crossed the land of the planned development. Or not. In the parallel story, Marcos finds cities of gold. Or not. The juxtaposition is clever and thought provoking. As a resident of the Soutwest, I found the atmosphere and landscape totally believeable. Generous use of real 16th century Spanish documents helps bring the same believability to the land the Spanish explored. My only complaint is with the publisher's choice of a title which is also on another book about the Southwest. I hope readers will not be confused. This book will be loved by people who like little mystery with their history.
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By Tom on January 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Cities of Gold is an excellent book tying together the history of the Southwest with its' present day concerns. Cities of Gold shows where the American mind-set of the west - its treatment of land, people, and economy by treasure-hunters with get-rich-quick schemes - began, and how little has changed even today. William K.Hartmann's treatment of the Spaniard's recognition of the mistakes that were made by Cortes in his conquest of Mexico and how they wanted to avoid repeating those same mistakes, leaves the reader with much to think about in terms of our current relations between Euro-Americans, Native-Americans, Mexicans-Americans, and Mexican Nationals. The Southwest is an area of the United States that has been, and still is, largely ignored, but it is the setting of the initial contact between Europeans and Americans. Cities of Gold gives us a better understanding of the area as well as our selves, and what could have been, and what still can be. It is great writing and research, an entertaining mystery offering plenty to think about.
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