Synopses & Reviews
"One of history's greatest upheavals plays out as melodrama and picaresque in this rousing saga of the founding of Spain's Latin American empire. Picking up after CortÃ©s's capture of TenochtitlÃ¡n in 1522, National Book Award winning historian Thomas (An Unfinished History of the World) follows the tiny bands of conquistadores as they fan out across two stunned continents, recounting the subjugations of Guatemala and the Yucatan, Pizarro's conquest of the Incan Empire, Orellano's harrowing voyage down the Amazon, and Coronado's vain quests for riches in the heart of North America. His panorama of the conquest depicts a vast criminal improvisation the Spaniards' favorite tactic was to take Indian potentates hostage and demand a ransom in gold whose bloody course was further roiled by murderous intrigues and civil wars among its leaders as they quarreled over territory and loot. Focused on the personalities, exploits, and vendettas of individual conquistadores, Thomas's account is almost as chaotic as their adventures; his occasional spotlighting of the distant, preoccupied figure of Spain's King Charles doesn't supply the unifying perspective he wants it to. Still, this story of the desperadoes who stole a hemisphere makes for gripping, old-fashioned narrative history, grand in scope and colorful in detail. Photo inserts; 28 maps. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Hugh Thomas is the author of numerous histories, including Rivers of Gold, a New York Times Notable Book and one of the Los Angeles Times’s Best Books of the Year; The Spanish Civil War, for which he won the Somerset Maugham Award; and An Unfinished History of the World, for which he won the Arts Council Prize for History. Made a lord in 1981, Lord Thomas was educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge, and the Sorbonne.