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The Aztecs

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  81 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
A vivid and comprehensive account of the Aztecs, the best-known people of pre-Columbian America. It examines their origins, civilization, and the distinctive realms of Aztec religion, science, and thought. It describes the conquest of their empire by the Spanish, and their present-day survival in Central Mexico, making use of the results of the latest excavations, historic ...more
Hardcover, 267 pages
Published September 8th 2003 by Blackwell Publishers (first published 1996)
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Comprehensive overview of Aztec (though primarily Mexica) history. This book is designed for a lay audience and summarizes both modern scholarship and primary sources. A great launching point for further reading. A bit heavier on the social aspects of life than the Townsend book.
Mia van den Dolder
The Aztecs by Michael Smith is amazingly written and jam packed with information surrounding all aspects of Aztec life. I found it extremely interesting how archeologists have derived all this information from such small pieces of a wider culture. I highly recommend this read as it contain interesting information of a civilisation long gone and adds a whimsical effect. This book may be morally confronting because of the gap in modern day and ancient culture but it creates an understanding of mex ...more
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Useful information on the Aztec life - some history, interpretation of pictography, plenty of archaeological evidence backing up the text. Topics include warfare, merchants, artisanship, gender roles, myths, daily life. Not that much info on various festivals and celebrations.

I particularly recommend it because the author himself participated in many of the digs that he refers to. Both he and his wife are obviously very passionate experts on the subject. Many of the photographs he refers to were
Esther Buddenhagen
Nov 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a combination of excellent anthropology and history written by a guy who really knows his stuff and immerses the reader in the definitely different world of the Aztecs. Definitely worth reading. Mesoamerica is a world that is alien to most Norteamericanos, and this is a crime. We should immerse ourselves in our shared ancestors and relish the experience. This book is a fine place to start.
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While certainly not the most exciting book you will ever read, if you have any interest whatsoever in Mesoamerica cultures, then you will find elements of this book interesting. The parts about social constructs within the culture as well as religious rituals are especially riveting. Photographs, diagrams, and illustrations are included.
Oct 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
This is a textbook; it's not light reading. But it's also the most authoritative account I could find of Aztec culture, and it's very informative. If you can find a more readable book with the same quality of info, I'd love to hear about it; otherwise, this will at least get the job done.
Jan 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Townsend and smith disagree on some point, but then this is still a growing subject and you can kind of expect that.
This book is very informative and interesting--it's not nearly as dry as most textbooks!
Jul 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This text offers a good introduction to the culture of the Aztecs as well as excellent illustrations.
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Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Interesting archeological methods described. Provides many maps and illustrations.
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See also:

Michael E. Smith, author on international relations
Michael E. Smith (Derbyshire)

Michael Ernest Smith (born 1953) is an American archaeologist working primarily with Aztec and general Mesoamerican archaeology. He has written numerous scholarly articles about central Mexican archaeology as well as several books about the Aztecs, among them a widely used textbook (Smith 2003). He is currentl
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