Why this book?
Townsend recently published three books on Aztec history, all excellent, but I recommend Fifth Sun be read first, as the most accessible and important (followed by Malintzin’s Choices, and then Annals of Native America). It is important because—more than any other book—it treats the Aztecs as human beings to whom we can relate, not as exotic or strange beings. She writes that the Aztecs would not recognize themselves in the portrait of their world created in films and books; her efforts to reconstruct their culture and past in ways that would make sense to the Aztecs result in a history that is an absolute revelation.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
In November 1519, Hernando Cortes walked along a causeway leading to the capital of the Aztec kingdom and came face to face with Moctezuma. That story-and the story of what happened afterwards-has been told many times, but always following the narrative offered by the Spaniards. After all, we have been taught, it was the Europeans who held the pens. But the Native Americans were intrigued by the Roman alphabet and, unbeknownst to the newcomers, they used it to
write detailed histories in their own language of Nahuatl. Until recently, these sources remained obscure, only partially translated, and rarely consulted by…