Following in the footsteps of the greatest Spanish adventurers, Michael Wood retraces the path of the conquistadors from Amazonia to Lake Titicaca, and from the deserts of North Mexico to the heights of Machu Picchu. As he travels the same routes as Hernán Cortés, Francisco, and Gonzalo Pizarro, Wood describes the dramatic events that accompanied the epic sixteenth-century Spanish conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires. He also follows parts of Orellana’s extraordinary voyage of discovery down the Amazon and of Cabeza de Vaca’s arduous journey across America to the Pacific. Few stories in history match these conquests for sheer drama, endurance, and distances covered, and Wood’s gripping narrative brings them fully to life.
Wood reconstructs both sides of the conquest, drawing from sources such as Bernal Diaz’s eyewitness account, Cortés’s own letters, and the Aztec texts recorded not long after the fall of Mexico. Wood’s evocative story of his own journey makes a compelling connection with the sixteenth-century world as he relates the present-day customs, rituals, and oral traditions of the people he meets. He offers powerful descriptions of the rivers, mountains, and ruins he encounters on his trip, comparing what he has seen and experienced with the historical record.
As well as being one of the pivotal events in history, the Spanish conquest of the Americas was one of the most cruel and devastating. Wood grapples with the moral legacy of the European invasion and with the implications of an episode in history that swept away civilizations, religions, and ways of life. The stories in Conquistadors are not only of conquest, heroism, and greed but of changes in the way we see the world, history and civilization, justice and human rights.
©2011 Michael Wood (P)2011 AudioGO
“[An] accessible, literate, and lively book.” (Amazon.com, editorial review)
“The digestible narrative provides a provocative overview of a historical episode that was both magnificent and shameful.” (Booklist)
“A handsome, lucidly written narrative of events that were, for the most part, a triumph of greed, brutality, and blood.” (Houston Chronicle)
If you love Conquistador history as I do start out with this book as it is a good primer on the subject. Then follow it with 'Conquistador' by Buddy Levy and 'The Last Days of the Incas' by Kim MacQuarrie. Both books can be found on Audible.com and go into much more depth. After that go on Amazon and pick up the hard copy of 'Fernando Cortes His Five Letters of Relation to the Emperor Charles V'. This is a two volume set that are the actual dispatches from Cortes to the King. I picked my copy up for $20. Lastly read the 641page 'The Conquest of the Incas' by John Hemming available in hardcover and paperback cheap from lots of used book sellers... just do a search.
Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
Wood does a good job of portraying the unbridled ambition that drove the conquest of the new world. This wa a very engaging read that mixed the history with the modern day quest to see the areas and understand the people of today that remain from the indigenous first people and the mixing of the foreign invaders.
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