Fifth Sun

By Camilla Townsend,

Book cover of Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs

Book description

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…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Fifth Sun as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Mexico has a long history prior to the sixteenth-century Spanish conquest, none more fascinating than that of the Aztecs. Their story, however, is too often told from the point of view of the conquerors with historians accepting at face value the bloodthirsty and fantastical stories of the Spanish invaders. Camilla Townsend, on the other hand, uses Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs) sources to write a wonderfully intricate, nuanced, and imaginative history of these indigenous peoples.

From Edward's list on the astonishing history of Mexico.

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…

From Matthew's list on the Aztecs and Spanish Conquistadors.

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