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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A historical travelogue that doesn't quite come off, 15 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Conquistadors (Paperback)
This book was published to accompany the BBC television series of the same name, broadcast in 2000. In it, the ever-engaging Michael Wood attempted to retrace the astonishing journeys of four 16th century Spanish adventurers - Cortes, Pizarro, Orellana and Cabeza de Vaca - whilst simultaneously telling their stories.

There are two ways of turning a TV series like this into a book: 1) luxuriate in the journeys past and present and include lots and lots of glossy colour photos, or 2) drop the travelogue stuff and focus on the history. We may assume this paperback is not attempting the former, as it provides a meagre 8 pages of black-and-white pictures, the photos amongst which are so dark as to be barely discernible. Perhaps rd99 and LXIX were describing a different edition when they wrote of the "lavish" illustrations; in this one they're a waste of space.

Neither does Wood give us a history of the conquest of the New World - just four more or less separate stories accompanied by the author's views and descriptions of the scenery. Sort of a Conquista sampler.

On the plus side, Wood never misses an opportunity to relate the Aztec and Inca view of events, which is so often ignored. And his writing exudes charm. As you read, you can almost hear his amiable, comforting drawl - something that always sends my wife straight to sleep when we watch him on the telly. So this book is a pleasant way to pass the time, but with a bit of effort it could have been so much better.
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