102. Consquistador (Buddy Levy)

Friday, June 11, 2010
I really should pay more attention when I grab books off of the shelf. When I saw Buddy Levy's Conquistador in the book store and flipped through it, I was thinking that it was about Pizarro and the Incas. To be honest, I didn't actually read the subtitle, "Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma and the Last Stand of the Aztecs". Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed when I sat down later that day to begin reading. What the heck? Cortes? Montezuma? Damn. However, since I already had the book in my hands and nothing else to read at the time, I decided to give it a go - thinking that I likely wouldn't finish since I already knew the story. Cortes and the Spanish invade, destroy the Aztec empire, and now most of the Americas speak Spanish. I should know that History is never that simple.

Using firsthand accounts and historical documents, Levy recreates Cortes' determination to claim Mexico in the name of Spain at any costs. But its not just a story of imperial expansion and personal glory. Levy also explores the relationship between the two men and their (at first glance) opposing cultures and the reader begins to realize that the two have much in common.

We're also given a rare, indepth account of the struggle on both sides. Through the use of personal diaries and letters, Levy looks at Cortes' methods and tactics used to topple one of the world's greatest civilizations including enlisting former Aztec allies, disgruntled from the high tributes (both material and human) they were required to pay to Montezuma; without them, Cortes and his small army of Spanish soldiers would never have succeeded.

I was pleasantly surprised by Conquistador. Sure, it was not the book I originally wanted but it was well researched, fast paced, and well written. You think you know everything about Cortes' conquering of the Aztecs? Think again. Captain recommended.

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