Battle of the Books

The Conquest of Mexico: An Annotated Bibliography by Nancy Fitch. The annotations are extensive, incorporating inter alia a lengthy review of Bernardino de Sahagún work and the difficulties he experienced writing it. From Fitch's excellent hypertext empire The Conquest of Mexico .

Prescott, The Conquest of Mexico

Amazon. Modern Library edition of William H. Prescott History of the Conquest of Mexico. Paperback edition; the (nicer) hardback is apparently not in print. See Random House's Modern Library page for more info, quoting biographer Harry Thurston Peck:

"…one of the most brilliant examples which the English language possesses of literary art applied to historical narration."

Full online scans of History of the conquest of Mexico by William H. Prescott (Philadelphia, 1867), from MOA, The Making of America.

1844 review of Prescott's History of the Conquest of Mexico, together with Folsom's translation of Cortés' letters, from the Southern quarterly review (v. 6.11, 1841), from MOA, The Making of America.

Michael Wood, Conquistadors

Amazon. Conquistadors by Michael Wood. (The book that goes with the series.) Also in hardcover.

Publisher (University of California) blurb, with a good selection of reviews, contents and a brief excerpt. As of 10/14/04, they were also conducting a sale on the hardcover.

Amazon VHS. The Conquistadors with Michael Wood (2001 documentary). Why can't I get this on DVD?

"Conquistadors, with Michael Wood," the 2001 PBS documentary , has two websites, a general interest website, and one for students and educators. Both sites are confusing, with quirky navigation and content extending in all directions. I certainly don't appreciate a table of contents with items hidden behind random pictographs, exposing themselves one by one and then vanishing like a game of Memory. The kid's timeline wasn't designed well either. Who starts a Flash movie by asserting that you need Flash to use it? More generally, having two separate websites is a terrible decision. The cross-links compound the navigation issues by sending you to another site with bad navigation—different bad navigation. The split also sends the wrong message—that education is special and only kids do it.[1] I'm guessing they received educational grant money (note the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation logos all over the educational site), and couldn't spend it on a general-interest site.

"The Story of the Conquistadors" by Michael Wood. Instead of a spangly mess, BBC's "Conquistador" site is a long and thoughful essay by the filmmaker.

Interesting Beliefnet interview with Michael Wood , mostly about the religious issues involved, eg., did the Aztecs really think the conquistadors were gods? how did Aztec popular religion color Mexican Christianity?

Brief comments by Ronald Hilton, from a Spanish-history discussion list. Hilton supports the notion that Wood's documentary "contributes to the Leyenda Negra, the black legend which blackens everything Spanish," while the spiritual successes of the popular Catholic missionaries go unreported. So far so good, but he loses me completely applauding 16th-century missionaries for teaching the populace such excellent Spanish!

Positive book review by James J. Dunphy, Foreign Area Officer Associaiton (scroll down).

"A whole new world?" Book review article by William Perry covers Wood, and three other works about 19th- and 20th-century Latin America. From The National Interest (Winter, 2001)

"In four chapters, beautifully illustrated with abundant photographs, he escorts us through Cortés' conquest of Mexico, the Pizzaro brothers' equally amazing exploits in Peru, Orellana's travails in descending the Amazon from its source to the sea, and of Cabeza de Vaca's eight-year odyssey by boat to Florida and then on foot from Texas up the Rio Grande and across to the Pacific Ocean.

Blog "The Woolamaloo Gazette" reflects on the moral of the series, particularly the narrative of Da Vacca.

Other Books

Amazon. Cortés and the Downfall of the Aztec Empire by Jon Manchip White. This is a great account of the conquest, but seemingly not read much anymore.

Amazon. Cortés and Montezuma by Maurice Collis. No reviews online so far as I know.

Amazon. Conquest: Cortés, Montezuma, and the Fall of Old Mexico by Hugh Thomas.

"Aztecs: a new perspective." Lengthy History Today cover story by John M. D. Pohl (Dec. 2002), reviewing recent scholarship, on the conquest and the archaeology of Mexico City. He also covers Thomas' book, writing in part:

"With his publication in 1993 of Montezuma, Cortés and the Fall of Old Mexico, Hugh Thomas exploded the myths of the Conquest, demonstrating that in nearly all their battles, the Spaniards were fighting with Indian allied armies that numbered in the tens of thousands."

Amazon. Cortés: The Great Adventurer and the Fate of Aztec Mexico by Richard Lee Marks.

Review by Benjamin Keen, Historian (Summer 1994). Devestating negative review:

"The book may fairly be said to belong to an old-fashioned "trumpet-and-strumpet" school of writing, better suited to the writing of historical romances than sober history or biography."

LibraryThing: Catalog your books online.

If you enjoy this site you may like these others by me:

Machu Picchu on the Web. More than 300 resources about the great "lost city" of the Incas.

Alexander the Great on the Web. Everything you ever wanted to know about Alexander, and pictures too.

Hieroglyphics! Comprehensive guide to Egyptian hieroglyphics.