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Conquest: Cortes, Montezuma, and the Fall of Old Mexico Paperback – April 7, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
From the author of The Spanish Civil War comes this epic history of the fall of the Aztec empire to Spain.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Digging into thousands of pages of legal testimony given in the 1520s by participants in Cortes's expedition against the Mexico of ancient Mesoamerica, Thomas revisits the Spanish invasion of the Aztec Empire. The result is a richer account of the personalities, events, and social setting of this momentous episode than currently exists in accessible form. The complex genealogical interweaving of Castilian and Mexican royal families, the intricacies of battle strategy and tactics, the labyrinthine political machinations, and the brutal imposition of external standards of behavior and belief--all are described in a gripping narrative by Thomas, a British academic. His sterling achievement is to illustrate the complex historical foundation of modern Mexico. Although the book is intended for a general audience, extensive chapter-by-chapter endnotes and an annotated bibliography of major sources reveal the depth of the author's scholarship. No library should be without this important contribution to Latin American history.
- William S. Dancey, Ohio State Univ., Columbus
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Most everyone is probably familiar with the Siege of Tenochtitlan but this book illuminates how the prinicple characters arrived at that place in great detail. The sheer audacity of Cortes is almost unbelievable. In fact if you saw some of the events in a Hollywood movie they would come off as unrealistic but Cortes persevered through countless difficulties. There are many times in this narrative when things could have gone the other way and the Spanish would have been expelled from Mexico. Modern historians have taken to villifying Cortes but Thomas is fair in his assessment of him and while he has a couple trying moments virtually everything he did was understandable in the circumstances. In fact the English suffered far worse under William I during the Norman Conquest than the Mexica did under the Spanish. At least directly, because one of the great tragedies of the episode is the devestation of the indigenous population by disease.
For me, a good history book presents you with the known facts, draws a portrait of the players and events that took place and allows you to make your own decisions on who you liked and disliked, felt sorry for, or who you would have followed. Conquest accomplishes all of this.
Conquest contains many, many Mexica names and cities that are going to be unfamiliar to the English speaking vocabulary. These are impossible to pronounce and you either have to skim over them or give them a pronounciation you can remember in your mind. I didn't find this distracting after a couple chapters but you should be aware of it.
This is a worthy edition to anyone's historical collection.
This is history that reads like fiction. The world of Mexico before the Conquistadors is so foreign to the Western mind that it reads almost like fiction or fantasy. Yet it all happened, and Mr. Thomas tells it with power and passion. This is a book you owe it to yourself to read. Just amazing and wonderful.
If you think today's world is difficult or unjust - read this book and see what tough and unjust really means.
This book should be mandatory reading for high school kids who live pampered inane existences. A glimpse of how tough life can be and a cruel example demonstrating that the spoils go to the winners.
An excess of detail about the families, backgrounds and relationships of the conquistadors slows down the reading a bit. i learned to skim through those parts to get back to the action.
There is a touch of political correctness in spots, but by and large this book tells us that even in a time of fierce cultural clashes, a time in which professional historians are almost unanimously partisan, the scholarly approach and a brilliant mind can recreate history at its highest level.
Don't miss this exciting and memorable book.