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The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico (1959)

by Miguel León Portilla

Other authors: Alberto Beltrán (Illustrator), Ángel María Garibay Kintana (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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909923,597 (3.75)9
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 Leo n-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, Leo n-Portilla has included accounts from native Aztec descendants across the centuries. These texts bear witness to the extraordinary vitality of an oral tradition that preserves the viewpoints of the vanquished instead of the victors. Leo n-Portilla's new Postscript reflects upon the critical importance of these unexpected historical accounts.… (more)
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» See also 9 mentions

Catalan (4)  English (4)  Spanish (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 4 of 4
Pacheco decía de la Visión de los vencidos que es un libro "indispensable para todos los mexicanos". Viéndolo de una forma más objetiva, sin patrioterismos, yo diría que es un libro muy parcial. Siento que Portilla da su opinión y su interpretación de los textos en demasiadas ocasiones, y no sé qué tanto creerle a veces. Eso sí, el libro es precioso, las traducciones (muchas de ellas hechas por el maestro A. M. Garibay) son excelentes y los textos son muy bellos por sí mismos. Pero de vez en cuando deseé estar leyendo a Sahagún y a sus secuaces directamente en vez de leerlo filtrado por la Visión de Portilla.
Además, debemos tomar en cuenta al leer este libro de que los mexicas no eran unas inocentes palomitas. Portilla pinta a los mesoamericanos como víctimas del europeo, siendo que el imperio mexica era déspota y sanguinario, la conquista nunca hubiera sido posible sin los pueblos no mexicas que se aliaron con los españoles con la esperanza de liberarse del cacicazgo tenochca.
En fin, es un buen libro para introducirse al fenómeno de la conquista, pero no recomendaría que fuera el definitivo para el verdaderamente interesado en el tema.
  LeoOrozco | Feb 26, 2019 |
Using texts translated from their original Nahuatl into Spanish and then into English The Broken Spears tells the tale of the Spanish conquest of Aztec Mexico from the perspective of the Aztec people. Similarly, the book uses illustrations (of maps, people, and events) adapted from Aztec codices as access features. Similarly, the book incorporates easily accessible footnotes throughout. I found these notes and the images very useful, as I have very little experience traveling in Latin America and even less experience studying the history of the Aztec people. These notes and illustrations are made easy-to-use research tools, too, as the book contains a hefty index, bibliography, and tables of contents (one for chapters and one for illustrations).
Further easing the book's use, the beginning of the book contains a section of translator's note. However, this note very clearly seeks to present the book as an introductory level book, not a book for the scholar. The note admits that some liberties are taken in translating from language to language in an effort to ease linguistic incongruities, assumedly born of multiple translations.

Organizationally, the book moves chronologically, moving from pre-Columbian omens, to raids, and ultimately to conquest and its aftermath.

As the translator's note implies, the tone of the book is scattered as a result of the dynamic wealth of sources inlayed in the book, but the author makes an effort to create a cohesive narrative.

Rather than this book serving as an explanation of events, it serves as a wonderful narrative demonstrating an often ignored perspective. ( )
  Igraham1 | Mar 22, 2017 |
I enjoyed reading the Aztec account of the colonization of Colonial Mexico. The book is a translation of Nahuatl writings. See- the Spanish provided an alphabet which the Aztecs did not have prior to Spanish arrival and then the Aztecs applied the alphabet to their native Nahuatl language and began writing. The only concern a reader should have is accuracy- the documents of the account were written 10 years and more after the fact. A tip when reading: start with Chapter 14 which summarizes all the events, then read Chapters 1 - 13 which elaborate on events in detail, and finally conclude with chapters 15 - 16. I highly recommend this book for anyone studying Colonial Mexico History or persons who want to know more about Aztecs and their culture. ( )
5 vote Mrs.Stansbury | Jun 29, 2008 |
A worthwhile attempt at creating an Aztec narrative of the Conquest, but since the sources are all Spanish or oral the book is trying to be something that can't exist. ( )
  jcvogan1 | Dec 8, 2005 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
León Portilla, Miguelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beltrán, AlbertoIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garibay Kintana, Ángel MaríaTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kemp, LysanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klor de Alva, José JorgeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Broken spears lie in the roads;
we have torn our hair in our grief.
The houses are roofless now, and their walls
are red with blood...

Elegy for Tenochtitlan
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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 Leo n-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, Leo n-Portilla has included accounts from native Aztec descendants across the centuries. These texts bear witness to the extraordinary vitality of an oral tradition that preserves the viewpoints of the vanquished instead of the victors. Leo n-Portilla's new Postscript reflects upon the critical importance of these unexpected historical accounts.

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