Synopses & Reviews
Landing on the Mexican coast on Good Friday, 1519, Hernán Cortés felt himself the bearer of a divine burden to conquer and convert the first advanced civilization Europeans had yet encountered in the West. For Montezuma, leader of the Mexicans, April 21, 1519 (known in their sophisticated astronomical system as 9 Wind Day) was the precise date of a dire prophesy: the return of Quetzalcoatl, a fearsome god predicted to arrive by ship, from the East, with light skin, a black beard, robed in black--exactly as Cortés would. The ensuing drama is described by eminent historian Maurice Collis in a style that is equal parts story and scholarship. Though its consequences have been treated by writers as diverse as D.H. Lawrence and Charles Olson, never before have the facts of this event been rendered with such extraordinary clarity and elegance.
"A fascinating piece of history...Maurice Collis tells an extremely intricate story with perfect clarity, and he writes also with obvious delight at having such a good story to tell." David Garnett
"Collis has set out not merely to retell the fabulous story of the conquest of Mexico, but to study in some detail the characters of Montezuma and Cortés.... Written excitingly, [it is] a book that was needed and could hardly have done better." New Statesman
Collis's books give nothing but pleasure to those who enjoy elegant writing. --Harold Nicolson
The convergence of Cortés and Montezuma is the most emblematic event in the birth of what would come to be called "America."