This book teach you that regarless of how much you study, how much you learn and how much you already know, chances are that there is always room to learn more. Terrific book,teach the thruth about the mentality of the spanish conquistador.
This review is going to be much more vague than my other reviews, due to the nature of the subject: Aguirre in books and on film. But as the review centers in the Americas during the great conquests, allow me first to mention two absolutely fabulous must-read books on the subject, both by the same author, Buddy Levy, CONQUISTADOR, the story of Cortés and Montezuma, and RIVER OF DARKNESS, about Pizarro, Orellana and the Amazon. I've recently read AGUIRRE by Stephen Minta and THE WRATH OF GOD: LOPE DE AGUIRRE by Evan Balkan. Both are slight volumes, both excellent, both detail the adventures of this sadistic psychopath who in no way possessed the vision and intelligence of a Cortés or a Pizarro, although both, like Aguirre, were surely sociopaths. (I have a slight preference for Balkan.) Herzog's film with Klaus Kinski, AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD, faithfully reconstructs the major incidents as found in both Minta and Balkan's books, with a hideous Kinski who physically represents, to a staggering degree, the real-life, equally hideous Aguirre (whose portrait has survived). For those interested in the `'real-life'' Kinski, I've read W.A. Harbinson's (2011) BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the biography of Kinski and his equally famous daughter. He went from rags to riches, eventually living in mansions, eating off gold plates and owning dozens of Rolls Royces, Ferraris, et al, sexually assaulting literally anything with an orifice, one of his daughters even accusing him of abusing her from the age of 5. In truth, throughout the whole book, one can't find a single reason to justify the existence of this miserable human scum. Yet, compared to the inhumanity and sheer butchery of a Cortés or, especially, a Pizarro, he comes off as merely a miscreant. The film and all of these books are not for the faint of heart. As for my own books (also not destined for the faint of heart), they can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.
It may be reasonable—or at least clever—to channel Werner Hertzog’s film in insisting on a book title that the reading public will recognize. But if the editors at the University of New Mexico Press really want to play an ostentatious and obvious card, they could at least spring for color images to make their marketing strategy complete. The Amazon rain forest was a vividly bright green in 1560 when Pedro de Ursúa and Lopé de Aguirre passed through it in search of El Dorado and it is not too much to ask that the press illustrate the story of their expedition with the appropriate vibrancy. The text itself is unambitious. It is based mainly on the Hakluyt Society’s 1861 translation of Fray Pedro Simón’s chronicle, but, on the whole, it barely improves on the cleric’s original account. Balkan does a fair job of placing the “mad” Aguirre into both the modern historiography and the common perception among today’s Venezuelans. But Aguirre as “revolutionary of the Americas?” It’s hard to endorse such an odd characterization. Balkan does not seem all that comfortable with the man and his times and it weakens his account.