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On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés first met Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, at the entrance to the capital city of Tenochtitlan. This introduction - the prelude to the Spanish seizure of Mexico City and to European colonization of the mainland of the Americas - has long been the symbol of Cortés' bold and brilliant military genius. Montezuma, on the other hand, is remembered as a coward who gave away a vast empire and touched off a wave of colonial invasions across the hemisphere.
But is this really what happened? In a departure from traditional tellings, When Montezuma Met Cortés uses "the Meeting" - as Restall dubs their first encounter - as the entry point into a comprehensive reevaluation of both Cortés and Montezuma. Drawing on rare primary sources and overlooked accounts by conquistadors and Aztecs alike, Restall explores Cortés' and Montezuma's posthumous reputations, their achievements and failures, and the worlds in which they lived - leading, step by step, to a dramatic inversion of the old story. As Restall takes us through this sweeping, revisionist account of a pivotal moment in modern civilization, he calls into question our view of the history of the Americas and, indeed, of history itself.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Aggressive Joe on 02-16-18
Flawed, but worth it for those interested.
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
It is still good for people who love history, but too dry for those that just want a good story.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
Like British historical writers, the book is a little too dry. I mean, a small group of soldiers walked into Mexico and toppled a civilization in a short period of time. Shouldn't that be interesting? Would that be siding with Cortes if more imagery and a more sweeping story were presented?
What about Steven Crossley’s performance did you like?
It is my American exceptionalism here, but the word 'war' is very short and has an 'a' in it. Why is it the English way to pronounce it as a dramatic version of 'wore'?
Any additional comments?
The writer has made this his life's work, which I absolutely respect. But he gets too carried away with some issues that do not seem to make sense. Such as:
- The Aztecs were a wonderful, sophisticated society, who only heinously killed some people, and not everyone like we were led to believe, and their use of slavery was apparently okay.
-It was the brilliant Montezuma that outsmarted the conquistadors and baited them perfectly into his trap. Silly conquistadors.
-Since record keeping was so great in the Caribbean in the early 1500's, we know that Cortes was a nobody whose only talent was his ability not to die.
-Somehow the United States was inserted into this a few times for negative purposes. What would his native Britain know about colonialism?
-It wasn't 400 Spanish soldiers, more like 2,000 that helped fold the largest civilization in South America...........how unimpressive.
The chapter on slavery was enough condemn Cortes and his fellow conquistadors, the author's other takedowns of Cortes come across as speculative and petty.
I would love to have the author's response to this. Thanks,
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
By steven hill on 07-13-18
preachy, judgemental, meandering
Irritatingly written, fill of loaded words unnecessary to expounding a reasonable thesis, which is stated over and over without ever quite summing up the arguments to support it. I could not read it in print, and the narrator skillfully mimics the snotty, condescending, know-it-all tone taken by the author.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful