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Conquistadors by Michael Wood (author)

Conquistadors (edition 2010)

by Michael Wood (author) (Author)

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201387,894 (3.57)2
Authors:Michael Wood (author) (Author)
Info:BBC Books (2010)
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Conquistadors by Michael Wood


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A well written and superbly illustrated book covering the major Spanish players in the conquering and imposition upon the natives of the American continents. One of the more amazing episodes in world history these fearless men who ruthlessly exploited both the people and the land.

Michael Wood vividly covers the characters and actions on both side that led to the Spanish culture that to this day dominates. It leaves in ones mind what would have become of these conquered people had they not been imposed upon.

Along with the more known conquistadors Cortes and Pizarro we get coverage of probably the lesser known Orellano and Cabeza De Vaca who were more explorers than conquistadors. ( )
  knightlight777 | Nov 20, 2017 |
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, but pretty nearly -- we were taught a bit about the Aztecs and Cortes back in primary school, but that was about the extent of it. Wood evokes all this pretty clearly, though some colour photographs may have helped -- my edition only has a small section of black and white ones. He uses sources from both sides of the conflict, and I think he kept a balance reasonably well. He obviously admired some of the conquistadors, but he kept in mind that even those of a more exploratory bent still thought and acted as conquistadors, save perhaps Cabeza de Vaca.

I think it interesting that one review complains of a completely one-sided view of the conquistadors "ethnically cleansing" the lands they conquered, while another complains about the British self-loathing. I think actually, there's a pretty good balance between the two: Wood rightfully points out the excesses of the Spanish, but he also explains some of their reactions and doesn't gloss over the issues of human sacrifice, etc. ( )
  shanaqui | Mar 12, 2014 |
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 (and his crew) follow parts of their routes and finds connections with each journey.

While this device isn't all that unique, it provides a very modern connection with these distant stories. It's a reminder that these events didn't actually occur very far away in either time or place. He blends the historical with the modern and all of the stories read very smoothly. Accompanying each tale are a series of color images - historical artwork, as well as photos from the trips that followed in the footsteps of these conquerers.

The book isn't intended to dive deeply into each adventure. But the detail is more than adequate and certainly whetted my desire to learn more.

I highly recommend this book. ( )
  JGolomb | Aug 6, 2010 |
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"In Conquistadors Michael Wood travels in the footsteps of some of the greatest of the Spanish adventurers, from Amazonia to Lake Titicaca and from the deserts of North Mexico to the heights of Machu Picchu. He experiences first hand the reality of epic journeys, such as those made by Hernan Cortes, and Francisco and Gonzalo Pizarro, and explores the turbulent and terrifying events surrounding the Spanish conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires. He also retraces Orellana's extraordinary voyage of discovery down the Amazon and Cabeza de Vaca's journey across America to the Pacific." "As well as bringing history alive with text and stunning pictures, Michael Wood grapples with the moral legacy of the European invasion. The stories in Conquistadors are not only of conquest, heroism and greed, but of changes in the way we see the world, in our view of history and civilization, justice and human rights."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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