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The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico
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The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  969 ratings  ·  75 reviews
For hundreds of years, the history of the conquest of Mexico and the defeat of the Aztecs has been told in the words of the Spanish victors. Miguel León-Portilla has long been at the forefront of expanding that history to include the voices of indigenous peoples. In this new and updated edition of his classic The Broken Spears, León-Portilla has included accounts from nati ...more
Paperback, revised, 264 pages
Published November 15th 2006 by Beacon Press (first published 1959)
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Jessie
I had to read this for my intro class to Latin America from prehistory to 1800. I absolutely enjoyed reading it. Getting a peak into what the Mexicas felt, saw, and experienced was priceless for understanding the Conquest of Mexico in full. The language though melancholy was quite beautiful. I highly recommend for all history fans.
Andrew-Mario Hart-Grana
It's as refreshing as it was when it was first published many years ago. Leon-Portillo's constructed account of "the vision of the vanquished" has been somehow rejuvenated with new "Nahua" sources (i.e. Emiliano Zapata's statements), which confirm the continuity, and transformation, of this "vision" throughout time. In recent years, academic studies have been more inclined to also address "cultural adaptations" which certainly allowed these voices to be reproduced and heard for many centuries af ...more
David
A TOP SHELF review, originally published in the February 20, 2014 edition of The Monitor



As late as the 1950s, the world primarily knew the story of Mexico’s conquest by the Spanish through the accounts of the victors, men like Hernán Cortés, Bernal Díaz del Castillo and Francisco López de Gómara. Though glimpses at the true nature of the indigenous people shine through, as does the terrible majesty of the Aztec hegemony, these histories celebrated Christian and Spanish ascendancy. There was no r
...more
Jose Luis
Muy buen libro y recomendado al 100% casi de lectura obligada para aquellos que se interesen en el periodo de la Conquista de México.
Libro fácil de digerir y que nos muestra el otro punto de vista y tal vez el mas importante el de los vencidos.
Gladys
Nov 19, 2008 Gladys rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for:
Hay que conocer las dos versiones, la de los vencedores y la de los vencidos para sacar conclusiones. En este libro conocemos el pensamiento mexica en el momento de la conquista española
Wilson Warmack
Having read many of the Spanish accounts of the Conquest of Mexico it was extremely interesting to see the same story from the other side. Although this book lacks a strong narrative flow and overall context which would be critical for someone new to the subject area, if you are familiar with the Spanish version of events, then this is a must-read that fills in a lot of gaps in the Spanish account which helps to humanize the Aztec/Mexica and explain how cultural differences have lead to misinter ...more
Paulimar
Si se quiere aprender el punto de vista de los indigenas mexicanos un poquito antes de la conquista... éste es el libro para hacerlo!
Mische
Oct 21, 2009 Mische is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
i'm like halfway through this book and it's fucking great. why the fuck aren't more history books written like poetry?
Sheila
Leon-Portilla’s writes about the conquering of the Aztecs by Cortez using the translated Aztec codices to include the voices of the indigenous people. It also gives several different retellings of invasion and destruction of their land as found in the different codices by Indians conquered and controlled by the Aztecs. I had just finished Buddy Levy’s book, "Conquistador: Hernán Cortés, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs" and would recommend reading this book first because this Leo ...more
Mel
I’ve had this book for ages, but after reading the Daily Life of the Aztecs I was finally in the mood to read this one. I really enjoyed it, and learned a lot. I wouldn’t recommend it as the first book you read about Aztecs as it doesn’t explain anything just offers a translation of the work. It is also intended for the general reader, rather than the historian/scholar so doesn’t offer all that much in the way of notes or textual critique but nether the less is very interesting. The texts themse ...more
LonewolfMX Luna
Oct 19, 2008 LonewolfMX Luna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anybody interested in the History of Mexico
Recommended to LonewolfMX by: Ramon and Professor Rivera
This will be the counterpoint to Bernal Diaz's Conquista de La Nueva Espana.

Finished reading it and I must say that Leon-Portilla did a good job translating the Aztec codices in regard to the Conquest of Mexico.

The first chapter deals with the Aztecs seeing omens foretelling the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico.

Which really astonished me

The first bad omen of things to come ten years prior to the Spanish arrival in which signs such as bright comet flying over the capital in day time in which th
...more
Kelly Vidaurri
A History by the Defeated, for the Defeated
History has always been written by the winners and for the winners. This has never been truer than the account of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. The history that has been taught in schools gives an account of a heroic battle between “good” and “evil”; however the accounts in Miguel Leon-Portilla’s Broken Spears sheds new light on a subject that has been dulled by relentless repetition of a victor’s history.
The importance of a collection of a
...more
Aleluz
Es bien sabido que los mexicanos conocemos sólo una parte de la historia de nuestro país, aquella que es contada por los vencedores, por los que deciden cuál es la historia oficial de México.

Este libro es una crónica del antropólogo mexicano Miguel León Portilla, donde narra a través de la interpretación de diferentes códices escritos en náhuatl, los sucesos que acontecieron en México a la llegada de los españoles.

Una de las maravillas que nos muestra León Portilla, es cómo te hace reflexionar
...more
Justino
Jun 20, 2007 Justino marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
exceedingly sweet action!!!: i got this book because i find pre-columbian mesoamerica fascinating, and i also enjoy the vivid clash of cultures which occured when the spaniards arrived there. this book describes the conflict between the aztecs and spaniards superbly! this book is somewhat unique among histories because it takes the point of view of the vanquished rather than the victors. it starts from before the spaniards arrive with eerie premonitions of eminent doom to the fall of tenochtitla ...more
Milton Marshall
This is very good book and should be read along with Cortes' five letters, and the account of Bernal Diaz, by anyone trying to gain a better knowledge of the actual events that took place during the conquest of the Aztecs. I have read many of the reviews, and most of them fail to notice that the majority of the accounts come from Aztec nobles who are writing to the King of Spain years after the events seeking reparations for their lost property. Their account is thus influenced by their personal ...more
Briana
"The Broken Spears" is a classic "must-read" for anybody interested in the conquest of Mexico. The book was slim and easy to read, but it vividly depicts the humanity of a culture so ancient and so foreign. We know that the native populations of the New World suffered terribly when European colonialists arrived, from disease, warfare, slavery and the ensuing destruction of their known world. But what an impact to read of such destruction in the first person. My heart broke to read how they were ...more
Nick Marsellas
A must read for anyone studying the Spanish conquest of the New World. The stories within this anthology show the Aztecs for what they really were, a warrior empire who recognized Montezuma's incompetence, and fought valiantly, winning many of the battles against the Spanish. These stories will definitely have you questioning the story of Spanish conquest you learned in high school. Not only does this book provide a more balanced account, it is also a more emotional account than any reports we h ...more
Jennifer Gómez
La frase: "La Historia la escriben los vencedores", no aplica para este libro. Fue interesante leer una obra de la Conquista de México narrada únicamente desde la perspectiva de su pueblo, y no la tradicional española que acostumbran a enseñar en las escuelas.
La recomiendo a aquellos que deseen conocer los presagios funestos que tenían los Mexicas antes de la llegada de Cortés, ya que el autor se tomó la tarea de traducir auténticos códices que fueron rescatados por Frailes españoles durante la
...more
Jimmy Espinosa
Un magnífico recuento de la conquista desde los ojos de nuestros pueblos originales. A través de él se puede quizá entender el antecedente genético a los síntomas del México actual: sus acrimonias históricas, la división entre pueblos, el sometimiento de los débiles y el tlatoahnismo calcado a la perfección en las figuras de poder actuales; la intriga entre pueblos hermandados (léase la matanza de Cholula), el en ocasiones trágico misticismo y la voluntad de un pueblo que peca de supersticioso, ...more
Rick Perez
An incredible account of the Conquest and aftermath of the Aztec empire. Read along with Cortez's Five letters to Carlos V, and Bernal Diaz del Castillo's, "Conquest of New Spain" this book is wonderfully enlightening, especially as told from the perspective of the Americans. While many historians will discuss the fact that this book was written by a conquered people, and should be viewed through that filter, it remains as a counterweight to those tales told by the Europeans. Together these book ...more
Devin
The Spanish destroyed as many Aztec texts as they could along with the rest of their civilization. I was therefore suprised and delighted to find that enough Aztec texts have survived for the Author to create a complete account of the Conquest of Mexico from the Aztec point of view. Sheads new light on one of the most facinating stories in history.

It is as if a small group of beings from a more technologically advanced planet were to suddenly invade us, armed with weapons we could not even under
...more
Nick
Sep 07, 2014 Nick rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historians?
I was required to read this for a history course. It was alright.
Loretta
This book is the Mexica account of what really happened during the conquest, gathered from documents and codices written in both Spanish and Nahuatl. Early in the days of the conquest, Spanish missionaries taught native scholars Spanish and these folks wrote books about what had happened to their culture. This is very interesting to read, especially in comparison with Prescott's History of Mexico, which glosses over a lot of the violence perpetrated by the conquistadores.
Megan
I realize that exclaiming, "THIS IS SO GOOD!" is hardly scholarly or timid for that matter. This book, in my opinion, is extremely important for those who study pre-columbian/conquest history as it offers a particularly special point of view. It is a quick read for those who spend most of their time pouring over thick history books and if you are like me, a person who has trouble marking up her books, you'll still underline and reference this one.
Allison
Read this for a class. An accessible account of the the Spanish invasion of the Aztecs from the Aztec point of view. Interesting in that the story is told not from the side of the victors/aggressors but the victims (the Aztecs). I felt like the book was pretty repetitive though, because it provided several different accounts of the same events.

Not something that I would have read on my own, but it was not hard to get through it for class.
Pedro
An amazing book ! I strongly recommend it ! Portilla is able to present a great variety of historical sources and documents , such as texts written by natives after the conquest American Continent, in a very attractive and intelligent. It's a revolution in Latino-American studies giving voice and calling the reader's attention also to the native indigenous societies and points of views of the Spanish conquest.
Pedro
An amazing book ! I strongly recommend it ! Portilla is able to present a great variety of historical sources and documents , such as texts written by natives after the conquest American Continent, in a very attractive and intelligent. It's a revolution in Latino-American studies giving voice and calling the reader's attention also to the native indigenous societies and points of views of the Spanish conquest.
Pedro
An amazing book ! I strongly recommend it ! Portilla is able to present a great variety of historical sources and documents , such as texts written by natives after the conquest American Continent, in a very attractive and intelligent. It's a revolution in Latino-American studies giving voice and calling the reader's attention also to the native indigenous societies and points of views of the Spanish conquest.
Pedro
An amazing book ! I strongly recommend it ! Portilla is able to present a great variety of historical sources and documents , such as texts written by natives after the conquest American Continent, in a very attractive and intelligent. It's a revolution in Latino-American studies giving voice and calling the reader's attention also to the native indigenous societies and points of views of the Spanish conquest.
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Ha sido profesor en la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la UNAM desde 1957, director del Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, miembro de la Junta de Gobierno de la UNAM, y actualmente es Investigador Emérito del Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, con antigüedad desde 1957. Ha impartido numerosas conferencias y pertenece, como consejero, al Instituto de Civilizaciones Diferentes, de Brus ...more
More about Miguel León-Portilla...
Aztec Thought and Culture: A Study of the Ancient Nahuatl Mind Los antiguos mexicanos a través de sus crónicas y cantares In the Language of Kings: An Anthology of Mesoamerican Literature, Pre-Columbian to the Present El reverso de la conquista Fifteen Poets of the Aztec World

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