• Conquistadors

  • By: Michael Wood
  • Narrated by: John Telfer
  • Length: 10 hrs and 41 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (562 ratings)

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Conquistadors

By: Michael Wood
Narrated by: John Telfer
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Publisher's Summary

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
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“[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)

What listeners say about Conquistadors

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Horrific anti-European bias

The bias that pervades this book renders it almost unbearable. Irrespective of behavior, the indigenous populations are showered with praise while the conquistadors are vilified. This xenophillic treatment completely distorts the conflict between native Mesoamericans and the Spanish. The final product is closer romance than history. In sum, the book is a thinly disguised polemic against colonialism. It’s like modern day derivative of bartholomew de las casas’ work, only second rate.

39 people found this helpful

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Good starter on Conquistadors

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.

21 people found this helpful

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Free and I still want my money back.

A great story ruined. Not history, but people who have never done anything criticizing people who have done something. Like when people complain about technology on their smart phones.

16 people found this helpful

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  • DZ
  • 05-01-16

Political Agenda Writing

The author presents a one sided story of this paradigm era in history of the New World. It would have read far better if the author had not conceived a conclusion prior to chapter 1.

14 people found this helpful

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Aptly Titled

Would you listen to Conquistadors again? Why?

Maybe not again, but it has inspired me to learn more about the Inca's Aztecs and Mesa-American cultures. Fascinating.

Who was your favorite character and why?

In the later part of the book the author describes the yearlong trek of several ship wrecked Conquistadors that were the archetype of "going native". I found this particularly interesting and provided a lot of insight into the daily lives of native people.

What does John Telfer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I thought he did a great job, and he added to the story in many ways. His British accent was well suited to the primary material and his Spanish affectations were helpful in distinguishing Incas rules in particular. Well done.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I am not really a movie fan. This book is broken into 3 primary stories, all of which are well known through historical documentation. the author travels to these areas and brings the stories to life through his first person account of the terrain and people he encounters. I have a novice interest in anthropology and this provided a great introduction and overview into this subject.

Any additional comments?

This book is not revisionist history, nor does it attempt to rationalize European colonialism. It is a fair account of a difficult period in world history, but one that had some level of inevitability. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding more about how the Americas were formed. Very well done.

5 people found this helpful

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"Great story, unnecessary author imposition"

I really enjoyed learning the story of this collision of 2 worlds. The problem was the author kept inserting his own journey into the text, such that he became a distraction. A good historical work should feel like the author isn’t even really there. The last major story on cabeza de vaca ran a little long, and I would have liked to hear more about de Soto who was only mentioned in passing. Either way, I really enjoyed learning about this adventure and tragedy, I just wish the author didn’t insert himself so much in it. I am sure there are probably better books about this incredible chapter of human history

4 people found this helpful

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Worth reading not objective, good factualy

the perspective of the author is clearly not objective. hes judgment goes to modern leftest feelings. the point I'm making is hes not time relative. The conquestadors and conquest were 5 centuries ago. it was the inquisition in Spain. The times were mean, people everywhere were terrible to each other. It is not acceptable to judge what the people of the time did in those days as to what we may think is moral today. I assure you that is ballony, when push comes to shuf we aren't any more or less different than they were. Aztecs were practicing the bloodiest religion in history. the conquestadors conquered a new world, with superior tech. At the same time in history Islam was propagated at the point of a sword. Convert or die. Conquistador by Buddy Leavy is a much better less objective version of this story. also River of Darkness, by Leavy.

4 people found this helpful

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Great Listen

Ive lived in the areas covered in this book and it was enlightening to learn more about the men who were in the forefront of this great event. The men who changed the New a world for better or for worse.

3 people found this helpful

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Incredible

One of the finest books of any genre I have come across. The narrator, the author, the tragic story.

1 person found this helpful

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Listen before you travel to Mexico, Peru or Equidor

I wish I had listened to this book 30 years ago before I went to college in Mexico City. The geographic specifics of the historical events are fantastic. I learned things I never knew as a resident.
Also, the information about Peru would have been valuable before I traveled there...the details of the battles at various sites in the Sacred Valley make the characters more “human” than other historical texts.
If I ever go back to Texas I will refer to the last chapters.

1 person found this helpful