The End of the Aztecs
Charles L. Mee, Jr.
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History offers no more astonishing instance of the part that chance plays in our lives than the catastrophic slow-motion clash between Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes and the Aztec leader Montezuma. The landing of Cortes and his men on the shore of Mexico in 1519 came as a shock to the Aztecs. Everything that followed from that moment to the destruction of an entire civilization was a succession of stunning surprises:
• The surprise that Cortes would step into a land where so many wanted to revolt against the indigenous central government.
• The surprise that the Spaniards could overcome the enormous military odds against them.
• The surprise that Cortes could take Montezuma captive in his own capital.
• The surprise that the Spaniards could level the entire city of Tenochtitlan.
• The surprise that illness could annihilate tens of millions of people.
• The surprise that the backbone of an entire civilization could be broken in a matter of only a few decades.
The End of the Aztecs is a humbling story for anyone who neglects to take into account the inevitability of the unpredictable in human affairs.
This is nothing more than a brief overview of the fall of the Aztecs. The author attempts to squash the tumultuous period of history into 30 or so pages. It's well written, though, and useful if you need a summary.
Short and tart
This is a quick read that gives a good overview of a difficult topic - the demise of the Aztec culture. Heading south for spring break next month and feel that this book has already improved the trip.