The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico

The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico by Bernal Diaz del Castillo (1956)

Let me start by saying that quite simply this may be one of the best books I've ever read. The date given above is the year of translation for this particular edition, but this book is essentially a memoir of the Mexican expedition undertaken by Hernando Cortes as written by one of his soldiers. There is a manner to the text that humanizes both the Spaniards and the Aztecs. Diaz relates the manner in which the Spaniards sought to establish trade with the Aztecs and after initial skirmishes, they were well received in many villages and Diaz claims they were received as Teules - gods. Whether this is accurate or not, along with many other details, should not detract from the fact that this is a compelling eyewitness account of the Spanish conquest of Mexican lands some five centuries ago. There are two maps as single page illustrations in the text as a means of providing the reader with an idea where certain villages and towns are located. There are however many more that are mentioned throughout the text and it becomes impossible to imagine how they are placed on a map in relation to each other. This does not detract from the overall imagery that Diaz creates with his writing as I found myself eagerly turning the pages to see what would happen text, whether it was triumph or tragedy.