As the title implies 'Conquistadores' is about how the Spanish went on their exploratory journeys to the Americas starting with Christopher Columbus (who was Italian but got his sponsorship for the trip from the Spanish Monarchs
Name: Conquistadores: A new history of Spanish discovery and conquest.
Author: Fernando Cervantes
Genre: Non Fiction/History
Book Post No. 37
What is it about? : As the title implies ‘Conquistadores’ is about how the Spanish went on their exploratory journeys to the Americas starting with Christopher Columbus (who was Italian but got his sponsorship for the trip from the Spanish Monarchs Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II) and then to the famed (negatively) conquistadores Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro. In their quest for gold and glory they decimated the two most advanced civilizations of the Americas, the Aztecs of Mexico and the Incas of Peru. This book offers some fresh perspective behind their motives and the prevailing political conditions at that time. The author also presents the complex religious background of that time.
Did I like it? : Yes, this is a great read. It opened my eyes to facts that I did not know before, broadening my perspective about the colonization process of the European powers of the modern era in general and the Spanish in particular. The book takes its time in getting towards the main characters of the book Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro. But this is understandable in that the voyages by these two were built on the foundations laid by others who established a Spanish presence in Hispaniola (modern day Haiti and Dominican republic) and Cuba. Overall this is a good read but it gets a bit heavy in its details.
Positives: The author has used sources from both sides of the story, Spanish as well as the native which sometimes provides contrasting views of the same point. And he makes it a point to mention this clearly. This makes it more interesting. Also one of the things I loved about this book is that it mentions about the people in Spain who opposed the whole conquest expeditions. This was a question that I often used to ponder thinking were there not people in Spain at that time who must have been saddened by what the conquistadores were doing in foreign lands. This book has answered that for me. Yes there were and it explains that view point in a detailed manner. I loved the logical way in which one of these men called Vittoria blasted the whole enterprise even reaching close to questioning the influential leaders who backed these expeditions. These two points made the book stand out.
Negatives: This book is not for the general reader who is looking for a casual breezy history lesson. Having some background certainly helps because it can get a bit detail heavy in certain sections. It feels like the author is stuck on these sections for a while dragging the narrative. In certain areas I felt one side of the story has been intentionally played down when it came to showing the atrocities. But in other sections I think it was made up for.
Any other personal notes, observations, fun facts etc.: The author is a descendent of one of the conquistadores himself. With my trilogy of books on the Spanish conquests and civilizations of the Americas complete I think ill take a break and move on my next topic of interest soon.