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3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  258 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 3rd 2003 by BBC Books (first published November 23rd 2000)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 12, 2014 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I'm pretty willing to pick up any of the books Michael Wood has written. They're obviously more popular history than anything, pitched at BBC documentary level, but that is the level of knowledge I have for a lot of historical subjects. Conquistadors is in the usual format familiar from Wood's book on Alexander: he retraces the steps of the conquistadors, in some cases clarifying their routes where they weren't completely known before.

This is a period of history that's not entirely new to me, bu
Joshua Rigsby
Apr 16, 2015 Joshua Rigsby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In Conquistadors, as with many of his books, Wood weaves the historical accounts of the protagonists of this period with his own experience retracing their steps. This has the unique quality of adding vivid description of the landscape, corroborating details of the accounts, and showing the degree to which a historical event has either been preserved or suffered decay in the intervening years.

At first I wasn't sure how to feel about this first person interjection throughout the retelling of cam
Nov 22, 2014 Howard rated it liked it
I suspect what I was taught about South American history at school could be written in a couple of pages and, as for the tremendous importance of the Spanish seizure and colonialization of most of the continent, it scarcely warranted a mention. After all, we were British, and had much to be taught about the superiority of the Englishman and his benign ownership and administration of the world that really mattered between the start of the 18th century and the middle of the 20th. No time for all t ...more
Pete daPixie
May 11, 2009 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I think I've read all of Michael Wood's books now. His style of writing is a constant throughout. The reader is taken on an expedition, in the footsteps of...'and here even today the place where such and such did whatever'.
In Conquistadors Woody takes us back-packing in the tracks of Cortes into the heart of the Aztec New World. We break camp at dawn to set off in pursuit of Francisco Pizarro's clan, to follow the conquest of the Incas in Peru. We then trek the Andes mountain passes in search o
Jan 27, 2016 David rated it really liked it
What we are taught in school about the conquest and settlement of the New World only scratches the surface of what really happened. I enjoy history and consider myself fairly well educated. Michael Wood shows us that we still have a lot to learn. Of course we have all heard the story of Atahualpa and Pizarro, but what we find in this book is the part that we weren't taught.
Quite eye opening.

Excellent book. The author has done a fantastic job of putting us right there in the middle of the action
Sep 26, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-history
This was quite an interesting book on an important subject. I'd not read much about the conquest since high school, so this book added another layer to my understanding. The text is nicely augmented with photos of the landscapes and artifacts, as well as historical paintings of the subjects. Structurally, I surprised that even though the book covered the conquest of the Aztecs by Cortes and the Incas by Pizarro, it included the journeys of Orellana down the Amazon and Cabeza de Vaca across Mexic ...more
Jenni Link
Sep 10, 2015 Jenni Link rated it really liked it
Picked this up as a complement to 1491. It's a companion book to the BBC/PBS TV series of the same name, written for a general audience and full of photos and illustrations. (This would be a great book for an interested middle school student, in fact.) Looking at contemporary depictions - European and American - of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and seeing a variety of artifacts I had been unaware of made the history in 1491 more accessible. My ignorance of early Latin and South American ...more
K. Ravichandar
Sep 21, 2014 K. Ravichandar rated it it was amazing
One of the few books I'll give a five on five for. I found it in "Landmark" and because I was a history-enthusiast and because I did not have any reference book with me on pre-Columbian American history, I purchased this book. It did not appeal much to me the first time I read it. But since then, I've read and re-read the book over probably a hundred times and once, I start reading I never feel like keeping it down. Michael Wood's sensitive and unbiased portrayal of the Spanish conquest of the A ...more
Jon Box
Mar 07, 2014 Jon Box rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Covers the Spanish conquest of the Americas: Cortez's conquest of the Aztec Empire, Pizarro's conquest of the Incan Empire, Orellana's Amazonia trek and Cabeza de Vaca's Southwestern US/Mexico marathon. Interesting stories of adventure and tantalizing accounts of the savagery of both the indigenous peoples and the Spaniards. Actually a sad account of Spanish greediness . . . I found the Cabeza de Vaca story most compelling as a native Texan--I had never really known and understood the historical ...more
Julian Walker
Apr 04, 2016 Julian Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author uses a journey into the Inca heartland as the base for a fascinating and very readable history of the 16th Century Spanish conquests in central and southern America.

Using key figures,he explores the politics, motivation and ambition of these small expeditions, looks at why the Conquistadors were able to achieve so much and assesses the real cost of the empires they destroyed.

Concluding with a very poignant observation from a local 'conquistador', this is very readable slice of history
Jason Golomb
This was the book that really ignited my passion and interest in New World exploration. Woods combines contemporary quotes and descriptions with his own modern-day journeys in detailing the adventures of four seminal Spanish explorers - Hernan Cortes, Francisco Pizzaro, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, and Francisco Orellana.

This book was written as a companion piece to Woods' PBS documentary, but it stands alone fine without the video. While recounting the adventurers and their adventures, Woods (an
Alex Telander
Jan 28, 2011 Alex Telander rated it it was ok
In this latest work on the Spanish conquistadors, an adaptation from the BBC television series, by Michael Wood, we have a whole new aspect of how the conquistadors behaved with their control over the New World.

It is almost as if Wood had once been a conquistador himself, as he retells of those brave soldiers walking in this alien terrain and fighting for their lives in an effort to civilize (or ethnically cleanse, perhaps?) those savage Indians who don’t know better. While this may come as a sh
Apr 01, 2014 Neil rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A topic I knew little about and a book I thoroughly enjoyed. A journey through the Americas and time. An inspiration to delve deeper into the topic, a genocide that is little known generally in the UK. Presented in a style that is easy to follow and allows you to take note of the aspects that you want to explore. The first of Wood's books that is have read and it won't be the last. Highly recommended.
Barry Sierer
Feb 03, 2015 Barry Sierer rated it really liked it
Michael Wood’s book is a rare of example of a historian who is passionately in love with his subject. Wood gives detailed accounts of Cortez, Pizarro and other conquistadors and scrupulously compares European accounts of the conquests against indigenous records.

I originally felt that this book warranted a five star rating till the author went off track on a couple of occasions by turning present day examinations of ancient sites into discussions of his own travel adventures.
Don Weidinger
Jul 05, 2015 Don Weidinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
smallpox and sickness timing is everything, fearlessness, civil wars divided, sweet sea Amazon, the fantasy, China 4 times larger ships, surprise of horses and mastiffs.
Apr 04, 2016 Devin rated it it was ok
Lots of information and interesting when he dives deeper into the issues of human rights as related to the indigenous peoples.
C.Y. Chong
Jan 30, 2015 C.Y. Chong rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable read. There is much research and the different characters and events are so well described.
Grant Lauritsen
Nov 07, 2013 Grant Lauritsen rated it really liked it
Conquistadors is a detailed account of some of the conquistadors (including Cortes, members of the Pizarro family and Cabeza de Vaca) who conquered the Americas during the 16th century. It is also an account of Michael Wood's journey to follow in their footsteps. Accounts of events by the Spaniards and the natives are given. Wood asserts that the native Americans knew their assailants were humans (not gods), but they were decimated by superior weaponry and infighting. A fascinating and shocking ...more
Christopher Earl
Jul 05, 2014 Christopher Earl rated it it was amazing
Like the series excellent education
Christopher Earl
Feb 26, 2016 Christopher Earl rated it it was amazing
Easy to read and covers the 1500s when Cortes took on the Aztecs, Pizarro and friends destroyed the Incas and various other Conquistadors killed off numerous other tribes, cultures and people for gold, fame and Christ.

Wood follows some of the journeys but his best parts is in relating the stories of the Spanish and their belief in themselves, their brutality and discern for the way others lived their lives. A sad story of the conquerors and their victims.
Apr 24, 2008 Ainsley rated it liked it
Michael Wood's study of the Spanish Conquest may not be authoritative, but it is entertaining, readable and thought provoking. A written version (with pictures and maps, hurray) of the BBC mini series, it's really quite good. But, like all the BBC productions, it predictably takes the British self-loathing view of Western culture. This isn't bad history per se, but becomes so when you start painting overly rosy pictures of pre-conquest American society.
Oct 28, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction to the topic, especially with the inclusion of primary source material.
Sam Motes
Dec 30, 2014 Sam Motes rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 12, 2011 Vasu rated it really liked it
Its a good read for those who like a blend of history and adventure, the events that the author depicts are truly astonishing and the book is provactive, enriching and gripping.

Jo Anne
Dec 24, 2012 Jo Anne rated it really liked it
Interesting journey through Latin America during the times of the Mayans and Incas etc.
Kirk Bown
Sep 09, 2015 Kirk Bown rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
An absolutely fascinating book about the Spanish conquest of The New World.
Brooke marked it as to-read
Sep 21, 2016
Frank Roberts
Frank Roberts marked it as to-read
Sep 18, 2016
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Sep 18, 2016
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Librarian Note: There's more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Michael David Wood is an English historian & broadcaster. He's presented numerous tv documentary series. Library of Congress lists him as Michael Wood.

Wood was born in Moston, Manchester, & educated at Manchester Grammar School & Oriel College, Oxford. His specia
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