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History of the Conquest of Mexico

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  260 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
"It is a magnificent epic," said William H. Prescott after the publication of History of the Conquest of Mexico in 1843. Since then, his sweeping account of Cortés's subjugation of the Aztec people has endured as a landmark work of scholarship and dramatic storytelling. This pioneering study presents a compelling view of the clash of civilizations that reverberates in Lati ...more
Paperback, 1056 pages
Published December 4th 2001 by Modern Library (first published 1843)
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Jul 06, 2016 William1 rated it really liked it
The thing I like about this book is both its strong narrative, almost novelistic, thrust, and its heavy footnoting throughout (at the end of most chapters there's a little bibliographic essay). Prescott's familiarity with his sources seems exhaustive. Reading him is a little bit like reading Gibbon. One has to make provision for the passage of time and the change of values. "Conquest" is hardly the word we would use today. Today the word is the neutral contact--pre-contact, post-contact.

The boo
Aug 27, 2015 Moloch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Moloch by: Dalla bibliografia dei saggi su Cortés di Miralles e Levy, visto anche alla libreria "Perugia Fumetti"
Questo è un argomento su cui non mi stancherò mai di leggere: riunisce insieme così tanti aspetti affascinanti (viaggi, avventura, ignoto, incontro con l'altro, gusto del romanzesco, passione, caso, tragedia) da essere irresistibile. La mia collezione di libri è ancora piccola, ma sta crescendo.

Una delle aggiunte più "preziose" è questo La Conquista del Messico dello storico americano William H. Prescott (1796-1859), che forse compariva nella bibliografia dei saggi di Levy o di Miralles sullo st
Aug 15, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing
This book is astounding!

Like others, I suspect, I thought I had some decent grasp on the story of the conquest of the Aztecs by Cortés and his conquistadores. I was aware of the Aztec belief that a white god was returning in the very year that Cortés showed up, a belief that attenuated their response to his advent. And the fact that they were overawed by the horses and hardware. All that stuff. The truth, I found, was that I hadn't a clue until I read this splendid history.

It is an utterly fasci
Nov 18, 2014 Charles rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the absolute best! What an exciting story.
erik d aker
Mar 10, 2011 erik d aker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: california
Insanely good. The most impossible-to-put-down history book I've ever held in my hot little hands. And it's over 100 years old.
Jul 06, 2016 Rebecca rated it really liked it
So beautifully written I hardly noticed it was a history book. What a journey Cortes took his followers on. What a determined man. The writing was poetic, absolutely unique. Thank you Feliks for recommending it to me.

A tragic history, this country, and the Mexicans rose up against the Spanish with such dignity and power. It was a perfect back drop for my travels through Yucatan and Mexico (City). And especially for my understanding of this country when I walked through the Anthropological Museu
Jul 12, 2016 Ed rated it liked it
Granted, Prescott clearly has a great deal of admiration and respect for what the Aztecs built, but he seems to praise them in spite of their "savagery". He sprinkles throughout the book references to the "barbarism" and "inferior culture", placing Christian European culture as, naturally, the pinnacle of human civilization; granted, this book was written in the 1800s. Still, the outdated attitude towards the indigenous people of central Mexico wouldn't feel out of place at a Donald Trump rally, ...more
Gerald Sinstadt
Jun 20, 2012 Gerald Sinstadt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Other reviews can be found of this book in other formats, but all agree that it is an astonishing achievement.

William H Prescott was an American historian whose sight had reduced him to near blindness, and who had never visited Mexico, yet researched and reconstructed original documents to produce a thrilling account of an epic seriesof events. The year is 1520. Cortes embarks from Cuba with the aim of claiming Mexico for Spain. Arriving in the capital, he is made welcome by the divine ruler, Mo
Oct 04, 2007 Alex rated it it was amazing
This is a great read. It was written in the early 19th century and so has a charming archaic feel to it. But it is not so old as to read as if it were written in Olde English. The author strikes a nice balance between the demands of epistemic responsibility and vivid prose. At many points it reads like a novel, with excited descriptions of this battle or that, but it is also pretty scrupulous about evaluating its source material.

It is also animated by a dramatic ambivalence. Prescott is not afra
Jan 16, 2015 Charles rated it really liked it
Shakespearean. Biblical. The somewhat archaic sounding language only adds to the oomph of this story. Due to the publication date, 1843, there's some un-pc wordage like "savage", but overall this is a surprisingly balanced (for the time) look at the clash of two cultures, i.e., the Spanish and Aztec empires. The story spans about two years, and focuses upon the machinations of Hernan Cortez as he undermines the Aztec power structure and eventually destroys the capital city of Tenochtitlan. A goo ...more
Robert Clancy
Apr 11, 2015 Robert Clancy rated it it was amazing
An extremely interesting account of the conquest of the Aztec empire by Cortes and his small band of conquistadors. Doubly interesting since Prescott wrote this account in 1843 -- over 170 years ago. As such, he was closer to the events of 1520 than we are, however, he was also influenced by the prejudices and political slant of his time. Prescott uses all the best sources for his account of the Mexican (Aztec) empires fall -- mostly from eyewitness like conquistador Diaz and the priests Casas a ...more
Oct 24, 2007 Varmint rated it really liked it
really a first rate adventure novel. learned more from this than the dozen dry acedemic modern books i read for class.
R.J. Wheaton
Nov 24, 2012 R.J. Wheaton marked it as to-read
Shelves: paused
Loving these C19th sentences.
Pedro Menchén
Feb 26, 2015 Pedro Menchén rated it it was amazing
Un libro maravilloso, imprescindible para cualquiera que quiera conocer la historia de México, de los aztecas, de España en la época de los grandes descubrimientos y, por supuesto, la vida de ese personaje mítico, tan fascinante llamado Hernán Cortes. Me avergüenzo de no haberlo leído antes, pues ignoraba prácticamente todo lo que ahí se cuenta. La lectura ha sido algo dificultosa, pues son unas 1000 páginas en letra pequeña, con cientos de notas en letra aún más pequeña, pero ha merecido la pen ...more
May 16, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it
"History of the Conquest of Mexico." William H. Prescott 1843. Although reputedly blind and having never traveled to the Americas, Prescott's seminal account of the conquest of the Aztecs is as highly respected by historians today as it was in the 19th century. Cortez's clash with the Aztecs is arguable one of the most dramatic histories of the age of exploration. Drawing from numerous first hand accounts from both the Spanish and the Aztecs, Prescott, like the majority of anthropologists of tod ...more
Feb 08, 2016 Jeff rated it it was amazing
I only read the first of the two histories, "The Conquest of Mexico." I picked it up off my shelf mostly as a joke because I didn't know what to read next. I laughed, when I opened this very thick, dry sounding tome. But almost immediatly I was drawn into this fascinating, daunting adventure/conquest. Written mostly from primary texts of men who served with Hernan Cortes, this is a compelling story of survival, greed, triumph and tragedy. I loved it.
Dec 15, 2015 Jack rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Racisty stuff aside, this was a remarkable book written by Prescott in the mid-1800s. Though it was before the time of true academic history, this romantic historical telling of Cortes's romp across Mexico was well done.
Nov 21, 2014 Joe rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Amazing. Aliens with superior technology land in a new world, face overwhelming odds, and conquer it. Cortes is one of the most extraordinary men who ever lived. On the same shelf as Caesar and Alexander.
Aug 13, 2015 Taylor rated it really liked it
Fascinating story that focuses on an intriguing character in Cortes. It also provides a lot of interesting details about how the native societies functioned prior to the conquest.
Oct 02, 2014 Stosch rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
really good book, quite dry in some spots but superb in others. i like his sarcastic little comments on the europeans. has good notes. bought this back in 1999 with my last dime, sat on my shelf for years.

when i bought it i wasnt much of a reader, liked the cover and the thorough notes in the back but then the dry parts put me off. 1 day i thought lemme just crack this open 2/5ths in and voila, read a few great lines and was hooked.

cortes was a wicked man but super charismatic, super lvl strate
Clive Warner
Feb 24, 2008 Clive Warner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No cover but imagine a beige hardback somewhat disintegrating around the edges - this is because it's the original edition of two books.
It's fascinating to read this account, made even more interesting by little facts such as the idea of malaria being caused by "bad air" (mal - air - ia)
I also have a much more recent Mexico history, "Fire And Blood" which provides a more modern view, but Prescott's account is rich in detail of the fighting between the Aztecs and the invading Conquistadores and I
Jan 09, 2010 Jonnie rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Absolute must read for those interested in historical accounts of the Contact Period. Sure, it's a very old book (written in the 1800's) and suffers mildly from both period bias and research limitations, but this book gives a sweeping narrative that is as informative as it is entertaining. All other existing accounts were built on the strong narrative of Prescott. Every other text owes a debt... Rec'd as a beginning text for students and casual readers, as I'm sure any self respecting Contact 'a ...more
May 10, 2016 Melissa rated it it was ok
Very basic overview of the conquest of Mexico.
Jun 05, 2011 Brendan rated it really liked it
I listened to this book as an audiobook and the story was enthralling. I travel to Mexico often and have some understanding of Mexican history. But I had no idea what an incredible and improbable and cunning feat the conquering of the Aztecs and the valley of Mexico by Cortes was. Nor did I feel bad for the downfall of the Aztecs given how brutal and oppressive their culture was, which was of course a key ingredient in their downfall that Cortes so famously exploited.
read by Kerry Shale

**See also The Royal Hunt of the Sun by Peter Schaffer**

Those chief Aztec bods wore gold shoes with pearls studded on, even the soles were made of gold.

This was written in *sit yourself down* eighteenfortythree and it reads brilliantly.

Such a gruelling part of history; no matter how many times I come across Montezuma's incarceration and death it is still very hard to take. sad, sad, sad.

As all adherents of history have to have a sturdy stomach by default I have no problem
Kyla Squires
Jan 19, 2013 Kyla Squires rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history, war
Very vivid action writing. Seems very modern apart from the author's taking for granted that the Aztec's are savages who worship a devil and should be saved. This book is a play by play of events, so no real history analysis, but an interesting read just the same. It really illustrates that Cortez was a real dick, which is funny as he is clearly the hero of the tale.
Jul 04, 2014 Public_enemy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody
Shelves: history
One of the best books I have ever read. It's more than just a history book. You'll find brilliant observations (analogies) on every page. In addition, writing style is pure state of the art. Read this book; you will hardly find another fun, informative and unbiased history.
Jean-Pierre Labonté
Dec 02, 2013 Jean-Pierre Labonté rated it it was amazing
I would give this book six stars. It is the most fascinating history book I ever read. Full of details, not only about events, but also about the people involved. Incredibly well written, it reads like a novel, an epic adventure with Hernando Cortes at its center.
Oct 04, 2013 Kate rated it really liked it
Although the historiography of this work can be problematic, and Prescott's descriptions of the native Mexicans comes across as racist to modern readers, this is still an entertaining read and is a solid work of military history.
Jul 27, 2012 Salvatore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book overall. The drawback of this book is the new studies that have disproved a lot of Prescott's research. Although outdated it provides for a terrific read.
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William Hickling Prescott
U.S. historian. Born to a prosperous family, Prescott graduated from Harvard University in 1814 but was prevented by poor health and eyesight from a career in law or business. His friends, including Washington Irving, led him to his life's work: recounting the history of 16th-century Spain and its colonies. He is best known for his History of the Conquest of Mexico (1843)
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