- 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 1.2 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 40 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Discovery And Conquest Of Mexico Reprint Edition
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What's more, there are instances of miracles throughout--perhaps the same "invisible hand" often cited by some of the Founders of America(see below), reports of extinct cannibalistic giants and enormous bones seen by the Spanish, enormous buildings of lions, tigers and snakes fed the entrails of human sacrificial victims, and much more… a great read… Cortes also seems like one of the most under-rated leaders to have ever led men in war…
"Benjamin Franklin stood and addressed the Continental Congress with these words: "In the beginning of the contest with Britain, whenwe were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor....Have we now forgotten this powerful friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?
I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
This is the most authentic and interesting book I have ever read on Mexican History. Written by Bernal Diaz Del Castillo, a soldier who served under Hernan Cortes in the late 1500s - 1600s during all the Spanish conquests of Central America and South America, he provides an eye witness account of many of the significant events of the conquest. Even discounting the fact that he wrote this is his advanced years and has a bias towards the point of view of the Spaniards his book is far more accurate than anything else out there. I was pleasantly surprised by his writing style. His book is very readable and he is a natural story teller.
Even the little I managed to get through before my trip brought everything to life. I could actually follow along the historical themes of the Diego Rivera murals in the National Palace in Mexico City. Seeing Popo spew gas and steam was much as Castillo described 400 years ago. And in visiting archaeology sites and small villages in and near Mexico City, Puebla, and throughout Oaxaca one can still get a feel for the vastness and sophistication of the pre-Hispanic cultures that thrived throughout the region. The abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables give further testimony to the thriving cultures that existed there and the diet remains heavily based on corn, chilis, and use of various parts of cactus plants. The ancient techniques for weaving, pottery making, wood carving and candle making are still in practice today, though perhaps as much for the touristes as other reasons. The Catholic influence is highly evident. It began with those early efforts of Cortes who "encouraged" the populations to embrace Christianity. There were so many churches, many heavily laden with gold.
If you are planning a trip to Mexico (beyond the beach towns) I highly recommend reading this book before you go.