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The Conquest of Mexico

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Wulfric of Mercia
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The Conquest of Mexico

Postby Wulfric of Mercia » Wed May 12th, 2010, 5:42 pm

I've got a thing for reading historical chronicles. I recently picked up two first hand accounts of the conquest of Mexico.

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Bernal Diaz was a foot soldier in Hernan Cortes' army. He wrote his chronicle of his experiences late in his life and never published it. It was picked up later and translated and has become a classic depiction of the Spanish domination of Mexico. Truly fascinating.

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Not started on this yet but these are the letters that Hernan Cortes wrote to the king of Spain during the years of the conquest.

What makes this period in history so alluring is the clash of completely different cultures. Pretty riveting stuff.

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princess garnet
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Location: Maryland

Postby princess garnet » Sun May 16th, 2010, 12:40 am

The painting on the 2nd book is now on display at the Library of Congress. It's part of a set of paintings about the Mexican conquest.

Ash
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Location: Arizona, USA

Postby Ash » Sun May 16th, 2010, 2:11 am

Warning: there is a lot of bias obviously towards the Spainards in both books. Make sure you look for a more contemporary work that if not exactly from the native view, at least is a little more objective. We learned about Cortez in school, and it wasn't until I was much older that I realized what happened to so many natives in that country. Theres a lot more than meets the eye here (btw, I know you now want me to give you a title. I can't think of one off hand, tho I do remember one book we used in college that was quite a good depiction of the Mexican culture and history: Distant Neighbors (updated in 2000)

http://www.amazon.com/Distant-Neighbors-Portrait-Alan-Riding/dp/0679724419

There are others who can probably provide more titles.

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Margaret
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Postby Margaret » Sun May 16th, 2010, 4:03 am

I haven't read either of these, but I've noticed that the bias in first-hand accounts is often so blatant as to be eloquent in ways the original writer never intended!
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annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sun May 16th, 2010, 5:22 am

Although it's also good to read more considered modern interpretations of motivations and events (keeping in mind that modern authors may well have their own agendas), there's nothing like reading the original to give you a feel for the mind-set of particular period.
Last edited by annis on Sun May 16th, 2010, 5:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

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andrewoberg
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Postby andrewoberg » Thu June 17th, 2010, 8:48 am

@Annis

I completely agree. Particularly good for getting into the mindset of the people of the time are the Roman histories, in my opinion. Also, along similar lines, I think that Thucydides' "Peloponnesian War" comes pretty close to a modern attempt at objectivity.

Would be interested to hear more about both titles, and others regarding Spain's colonization of the New World.
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Sonia
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The Spaniards Take Over.. fiction

Postby Sonia » Thu June 17th, 2010, 6:50 pm

I gotta step in here and mention a book I was pretty impressed with pertaining somewhat to this discussion.. The setting is not Mexico, however, but Hispaniola, what is today, Haiti and Dominican Republic. The book is not well known and I paid a pretty penny for it and no regrets. The book is Sons of Yocahu and the author is Gloria Bond. I highly recommend it to those of you with a strong interest in the "discovery" of Latin America.

If you want to stick with Mexico, this one isn't too bad: Feathered Serpent by Colin Falconer. It's about Cortez and his takeover.

G. Alvin Simons
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Location: Florida

My Suggestion on a Conquest of Mexico Book

Postby G. Alvin Simons » Mon December 27th, 2010, 2:00 am

I also enjoy books on these subjects & have read several on Cortes & Mexico. The best of the best in my opinion was written by Hugh Thomas and is called, Conquest: Cortes, Montezuma, and the Fall of Old Mexico. I believe Mr. Thomas did a good job of presenting all sides of the story. This volume is HUGE, over 800 pages but a fascinating read. If you're interested, call it up on Amazon & read the reviews, description, etc. there. I can't begin to do justice to just how good this book is when compared to all of the material posted at Amazon about it. It was a Pick of the Month by the History Book Club when it first came out in 1995. That's when I bought my hardcover copy. I can't believe that the latest paperback edition is only $15.43! A used copy in Very Good condition will cost about $6.

Alvin

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David Ross Erickson
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Postby David Ross Erickson » Tue March 15th, 2011, 1:09 pm

I will second Mr. Simons' recommendation of Hugh Thomas' Conquest. It is simply one of the best books I've read, if pretty demanding. It is thick and dense, but given the subject that's a good thing. Lots of info about the lives of the Mexica prior to the Spanish. It seemed to me to be a very even-handed treatment of the entire episode.

If you check it out on Amazon, also look into Thomas' Rivers of Gold, another excellent read.


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