Michael Wood Conquistadors

ISBN 13: 9780563551164

Conquistadors

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9780563551164: Conquistadors
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The Spanish conquest of the Americas in the sixteenth century was one of the most cataclysmic events in history. Spanish expeditions had to endure the most unbelievable hardships to open up the lands of the New World. Few stories, if any, in history match these for sheer drama, endurance and distances covered. In Conquistadors Michael Wood travels in the footsteps of some of the greatest of the Spanish adventurers from Amazonia to Lake Titicaca, and from the deserts of North Mexico to the heights of Macchu Picchu. He experiences first hand the reality of epic journeys, such as those made by Hernan Cortes, and Francisco and Gonzalo Pizarro, and explores the turbulent and terrifying events surrounding the Spanish conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires, as well as Orellana's extraordinary voyage of discovery down the Amazon and Cabeza de Vaca's journey across America to the Pacific. In Peru, as in Mexico, the conquistadors swept away the indigenous states, subjugating the native people, destroying their religion and culture. As well as bringing history alive with evocative text and stunning pictures, Michael Wood grapples with the moral legacy of the European invasion. The stories in this book are not only of conquest, heroism and greed, but of changes in the way we see the world - in our view of history and civilization, justice and human rights.

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Review:

First the Trojan War, then the eras of Alexander the Great and King Arthur. Now, in this companion volume to the BBC/PBS television series, the indefatigable writer-filmmaker Michael Wood turns his lens and pen on the restless, sometimes homicidal men who established Spain's empire in the Americas.

"The conquest opened up the world," Wood writes, "marking the beginnings of a globalization which was not only commercial, but also ideological and philosophical, a remaking of mental horizons no less than a redrawing of physical geography." Grand themes all, but Wood is less interested in sweeping statements than in exploring the particular circumstances surrounding the careers of Spain's freebooter-warriors. Following in their footsteps, Wood takes his readers first to the dusty, bleak Spanish province of Estremadura, which gave rise to a remarkable generation of conquerors, hungry for land and wealth and well schooled in the arts of war. One of those men, Hernán Cortés, was also schooled in law--or so his contemporaries thought--and he was able to turn a talent for fighting and learned disputation into a great personal fortune made first in Cuba, then in Mexico, which he won not so much with weaponry but with great cunning. Another, Francisco Pizarro--a distant cousin of Cortés--recruited a semiprivate army to capture the great Inca empire, relying on force more than guile. Wood also follows the paths of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca and Francisco Orellana, accidental wanderers who helped open the interiors of North and South America to conquest. His latter-day, low-tech journeys underscore the difficulties the conquistadors faced in their time, and they help readers appreciate the sheer scale of their often bloody achievements. The story of the conquest, Wood writes, "never wearies in the retelling," and he proves it in this accessible, literate, and lively book. --Gregory McNamee

From the Back Cover:

"This is historical narrative of a very high quality. The prose is lucid, the descriptive episodes powerfully drawn. Wood describes fairly and sensitively the vast gulf that separated these Bronze Age [Aztec and Inca] cultures from the Western behemoth that overwhelmed and destroyed them, stressing in particular the near total inability of each society to comprehend the mores and values of the other."-Gene Brucker, Professor Emeritus of History, University of California, Berkeley

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780520236912: Conquistadors

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0520236912 ISBN 13:  9780520236912
Publisher: University of California Press, 2002
Softcover

9780520230644: Conquistadors

Univer..., 2001
Hardcover

9781846079726: Conquistadors

BBC Books, 2010
Softcover

9780563487067: Conquistadors

BBC Books, 2007
Softcover

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