The Broken Spears Hardcover – 1962
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a 9 read alone, a 10 when combined with Diaz.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book is a useful introduction to the native view of this important event. After reading these accounts along with more traditional history texts, you will have sufficient knowledge of both sides of the story to reach your own balanced conclusions. Portilla mostly avoids editorializing (except for a few slip-ups), and simply presents the native accounts without embellishment. A bonus is the chapter covering the literature of the modern descendents of the Aztecs, now called Nahuas, proving that the conquest is still a strong influence on the resilient culture of these people. The problems with this book include the self-serving and rather pompous intro by Klor de Alva, plus an under-representation of the native texts. Portilla has unearthed much important material, but only presents small excerpts here, as if he packaged the book merely for entertainment rather than scholarly value. More would definitely be better in this case.
It starts out with the omens foretelling the coming of the Spaniards and ends with the elegies on the fallen city. There are quite a few illustrations and poems, all of which are beautiful. Some of the accounts read somewhat contradictorily, but I suppose that is to be expected, as most of these accounts were probably recorded orally.
If you are at all interested in the history of the Aztecs, Mexico or Cortes, this book is a must read. It's not so often we get such a glimpse into a conquered people, and this book is a great compliment to books such as The Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Diaz.