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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb insight into the life of an ordinary Spanish Conquistador
Over the last couple of years I've been quite interested in the Spanish conquest of South America, and I had heard this book referred to a couple of times, so thought I would pick it up.

Anyone with even just a passing interest in South America history should grab a copy. It's easily one of the most gripping and interesting books I've ever read.

The...
Published on 6 Jun. 2008 by Steven Brown

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A little on the dry side...
The story itself is fascinating: an account of 400+ Spanish soldiers and sailors who fought their way through Mexico, from the Gulf at Vera Cruz, to Montezuma's fortress city. It's just a pity that it was Bernal Diaz who decided to write the story, as his style is so pedestrian, repetitive and monotonous in voice. I have travelled the Americas extensively, Mexico in...
Published on 6 Mar. 2013 by High Seas Drifter


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb insight into the life of an ordinary Spanish Conquistador, 6 Jun. 2008
By 
Steven Brown (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Conquest of New Spain (Classics) (Paperback)
Over the last couple of years I've been quite interested in the Spanish conquest of South America, and I had heard this book referred to a couple of times, so thought I would pick it up.

Anyone with even just a passing interest in South America history should grab a copy. It's easily one of the most gripping and interesting books I've ever read.

The story is translated from the original Spanish of a soldier who traveled with Hernan Cortes and his small band of soldiers, who eventually overthrew a rich and powerful civilisation.

Bernal Diaz' story starts with his involvement in a couple of early investigations of the Mexican coast, moving onto his expedition with Cortes. He explains the movements and battles in detail, meetings between 2 cultures who didn't really know what to make of each other, building towards the incredible climax of fearsome resistance and house to house fighting in the fall of Tenochtitlan.

A truly amazing book that is a must read for anyone with an interest in history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unbelievable, 7 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: The Conquest of New Spain (Classics) (Paperback)
Bernal Diaz gives a highly readable,first hand account of the conquest of the Aztecs.What this man,when he died at the age of 89,had experienced in his life beggars belief and the story he tells is one that,if it appeared in a work of fiction and the events were unknown to us,would appear to be completely crazy.
At the start of his book,Diaz apologises to us for his plain style and unvarnished prose and this is one of the reasons this book is such a treat and difficult to put down-other centuries old books can be very hard work to read but not this.The rare occasions Diaz lets us peer into his soul-such as near the end when he describes the fear he felt going into battle with such a terrifying foe,having been nearly taken alive twice-are moving.
This is history at its most thrilling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate True Story, 28 Nov. 2009
This review is from: The Conquest of New Spain (Classics) (Paperback)
When Bernal Diaz set out from Spain in the early 16th century he had no idea what lay before him. His was an adventure that wouuld see the collapse of the ancient empire of the Aztecs. Spain would assume supremacy in the New world and our world would be changed forever. Diaz gives a first-hand account of the miltary campaign, which he was actively engaged in, that led to these momentous world-changing events. He displays a deep understanding of, and sympathy with, the native Indians. His heart is always in the right place, but his sword is always in his right hand. Towards the end of his long life he took up his pen and bequeathed to us a book that puts flesh and blood on the dry bones of history. This is historical narrative at its most sweeping and compelling best.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down. Fact with the grip of fiction., 24 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Conquest of New Spain (Classics) (Paperback)
The translator, Cohen, has drawn the salient facts from someone who was actually there, Bernal Diaz.
Helps you to understand the scale of what was achieved, how it was achieved, and what drove them to achieve.
Excellent. Written in a straightforward manner. Read it, then read it to my children who found it gripping.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A little on the dry side..., 6 Mar. 2013
By 
High Seas Drifter (On the road in Mexico) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Conquest of New Spain (Classics) (Paperback)
The story itself is fascinating: an account of 400+ Spanish soldiers and sailors who fought their way through Mexico, from the Gulf at Vera Cruz, to Montezuma's fortress city. It's just a pity that it was Bernal Diaz who decided to write the story, as his style is so pedestrian, repetitive and monotonous in voice. I have travelled the Americas extensively, Mexico in particular, so it was interesting to learn about this almost unbelievable adventure; the bravery of this band has likely been unsurpassed in history, especially considering the evidence of human sacrifice the soldiers witnessed as they moved closer towards the capital.

I almost put the book down, its style was so dry. But if you can get a quarter of the way in, it picks up and you begin to forgive Diaz's lack of flair. It's a fascinating document in itself. Worthwhile reading.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Conquest of a Continent, 1 July 2001
By 
sam.mason@bnc.ox.ac.uk (Brasenose College, Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Conquest of New Spain (Classics) (Paperback)
Bernal Diaz's account of his expirences in New Spain (i.e, Mexico and the Aztec Empire) is one of the key texts associated with the expansion into and colonisation of Central and South America by the Spanish in the Sixteenth Century. His first hand account of the Mexica and the practices of the Aztecs, as well as his description of the events leading up to the eventual defeat of the once mighty Aztec Empire by a small band of Spanish adventurers provides important and interesting information about this period and on South American History.
While there are notable inaccuracies and biases in Diaz's account, the editor (J.M. Cohen)provides an excellent interpretation of this primary document and points the reader in the right direction as far as what interpretation to give Diaz's text (written when the former soldier was a very old, and probably bitter, man). However, through no fault of the editor, Diaz suffers from considerable verbal diahorea and much of his account is neither intersting or relevant. Nevertheless, this is one of the most important and complete contemporary documents on the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, and also one of the few to survive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fascinating!!, 1 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: The Conquest of New Spain (Classics) (Paperback)
When I was about to buy this book, I was afraid that it would not be very precise or impartial, as it was written by a Spanish soldier that took part in the conquest of the Aztec Empire.
However, Bernal Diaz explained that it he himself wrote this book at the age of 70 (yes 70!) because he thought other writers would change the facts and exaggerate in the deeds of the Spanish people!
It's not tiring to read nor annoying and he writes in such a lively way that it seems we are living that dream of the discovery of New Spain !
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gold, not Faith, 13 Feb. 2010
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Conquest of New Spain (Classics) (Paperback)
Bernal Díaz's bloody tale is an extremely revealing text and an overt message to all soldiers all over the world. It explains how and why a handful of Spanish mercenaries went to the new continent and could conquer the Aztec empire and how those who survived the deadly onslaught were thoroughly deceived.

The goal was gold
The only aim of Cortez's expedition was gold, not to christen the heathen or bring a message of peace.
A Franciscan even brought bulls from the Pope offering dispensation for any sin committed during the fighting (He returned to Spain `rich and well set up'). The hypocrisy of the peace message was blatantly revealed when the Aztec king was tortured in order to force him to reveal the place where his gold was hidden.

Conquest
Cortez found allies (and thousands of helots) among the tribes which were ruled with an iron fist by the Aztecs through heavy taxation, regular claims for tribe members to be killed as human sacrifices, or pure rape.
Tactically and technically (weaponry, civil engineering, cavalry) the Spaniards were by far superior to the Indians. Wooden arrows were no match for cannons, muskets, crossbows or metal swords.
The Aztecs also believed the prophesy that they would be `ruled by bearded men who would come from the direction of the sunrise.'
Another factor was the regular outbreak of European bacterial diseases among the Indians (smallpox).

The Aztec civilization
This extremely violent civilization was ruled by a despot (Montezuma). Dozens of human beings were sacrificed every day in order to slake the bloody thirst of their idols and to provide meat for the ruling elite (cannibalism): `they strike open the chest with flint knives and hastily tear out the palpitating heart which they present to the idols. They cut off the arms, thighs and head, eating the arms and the thighs. The body of the sacrificed man is given to the beast of prey and poisonous snakes.'
There was also gay prostitution (`boys dressed as women').

The cheaters and the cheated
Those who survived the onslaught, the maimed, the lame, the blind, the crippled, the burnt as well as the captains and healthy soldiers `were all somewhat sad when (they) saw how little gold there was left and how poor and mean (their) shares would be.' Many were still in debt.
There was a strong suspicion that Cortez had hidden all the gold away.
In the end, all the remaining gold fell to the King's officials. All foot folk was `thoroughly deceived.'

This book is a must read for all those interested in the real nature of man and the history of mankind.

N.B. This book is only a part (about one half) of Bernal Díaz's `History', which covers among other issues also the political intrigues around Cortez's expedition in motherland Spain.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 17 Dec. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Conquest of New Spain (Classics) (Paperback)
.. it is probably the best historical book i have read. the fact it was written 500 years ago and is still interesting to the average person is rare. diaz writes without bias and dispite being and old book and translated it reads easy. if you are thinking of finding out about the conquest or the Aztecs this is the best book to start with.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good primary source, 20 Dec. 2013
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Simply printed primary account of the Conquest of Mexico as told by Bernal Diaz. Personally, I used it for higher-education research and it has proved useful. I thoroughly recommend,
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The Conquest of New Spain (Classics)
The Conquest of New Spain (Classics) by Bernal Diaz del Castillo (Paperback - 26 July 1973)
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