100 books like The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City

By Barbara E. Mundy,

Here are 100 books that The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City fans have personally recommended if you like The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Olivia Milburn Author Of Kingdoms in Peril, Volume 1: The Curse of the Bao Lords

From my list on epic historical narratives from around the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a translator specializing in Chinese historical novels, and also an academic researching marginalized groups in Chinese history—ethnic minorities, the disabled, people with mental health issues, and so on. The treatment of marginalized people tells you a lot about what is going on within mainstream society. I’ve always been interested in stories about people from distant times and places, and I have a particular love of long sagas, something that you can really get your teeth into. Kingdoms in Peril covers five hundred years of history: I translated this for my own enjoyment and was surprised when I realized that I’d managed to write 850,000 words for fun!

Olivia's book list on epic historical narratives from around the world

Olivia Milburn Why did Olivia love this book?

Four times the sun has died and been reborn, and now we are living in the world of the fifth sun.

In this wonderful imaginative rendering of Aztec history, we move between mythological and real time, following the Mexica people as they gain power and establish a great kingdom, and then suffer the disaster of Spanish attack. The voices of many different people speak through this story, men and women, telling us of the price that they paid each step of the way in the struggle to survive in a beautiful but brutal world.

By Camilla Townsend,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Fifth Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should 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…


Book cover of The Aztecs

Matthew Restall Author Of When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History

From my list on the Aztecs and Spanish Conquistadors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent a good part of my childhood in Spain and Venezuela while being educated in England, and early on I developed a fascination with the Spanish and Native American worlds. After traveling as a young man in Mexico and in Central America, I was hooked for life. With history degrees from Oxford and UCLA, for thirty years now I have been studying and writing books about the Aztecs and Mayas, Spanish conquistadors, and Afro-Mexicans—fascinating subjects from whom I continue to learn.

Matthew's book list on the Aztecs and Spanish Conquistadors

Matthew Restall Why did Matthew love this book?

I love Oxford’s Very Short Introductions series (I have co-authored two books in the series, on The Conquistadors and on The Maya), and this is one of my favorite volumes in the series. It is a book I often use in the classroom and as a reference. Carrasco writes with clarity and wit, managing both to introduce readers to the Aztecs as well as to take us more deeply into various aspects of their history and culture. He has written a great deal on the Aztecs, particularly on their religion, and his depth of knowledge shows—but is not showy. His interpretation of Aztec culture is different from Townsend’s (and, to some extent, mine), but not confusingly so; in other words, you could read both this book and her Fifth Sun, get a sense of how scholars grapple with the tricky evidence that has survived, with both authors helping…

By David Carrasco,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Aztecs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This Very Short Introduction employs the disciplines of history, religious studies, and anthropology as it illuminates the complexities of Aztec life. Readers meet a people highly skilled in sculpture, astronomy, city planning, poetry, and philosophy, who were also profoundly committed to cosmic regeneration through the thrust of the ceremonial knife and through warfare. David Carrasco looks beyond Spanish accounts that have colored much of the Western
narrative to let Aztec voices speak about their origin stories, the cosmic significance of their capital city, their methods of child rearing, and the contributions women made to daily life and the empire. Carrasco…


Book cover of Collision of Worlds: A Deep History of the Fall of Aztec Mexico and the Forging of New Spain

Matthew Restall Author Of When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History

From my list on the Aztecs and Spanish Conquistadors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent a good part of my childhood in Spain and Venezuela while being educated in England, and early on I developed a fascination with the Spanish and Native American worlds. After traveling as a young man in Mexico and in Central America, I was hooked for life. With history degrees from Oxford and UCLA, for thirty years now I have been studying and writing books about the Aztecs and Mayas, Spanish conquistadors, and Afro-Mexicans—fascinating subjects from whom I continue to learn.

Matthew's book list on the Aztecs and Spanish Conquistadors

Matthew Restall Why did Matthew love this book?

To complement the perspectives of historians and art historians, Carballo’s book offers the viewpoint and skills of an archaeologist. But Collision of Worlds is far from being a field report from a dig. Instead, Carballo combines the sources and methods of historians and archaeologists to present a thorough and deep-rooted account of the two civilizations that met in Mexico five hundred years ago, giving the reader a more extensive background on the Iberian and Mesoamerican past than the other books I have selected. Like the other books I have chosen, this is recent work, and thus together these books all represent slightly different takes on the topic.

By David M. Carballo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Collision of Worlds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mexico of five centuries ago was witness to one of the most momentous encounters between human societies, when a group of Spaniards led by Hernando Cortes joined forces with tens of thousands of Mesoamerican allies to topple the mighty Aztec Empire. It served as a template for the forging of much of Latin America and initiated the globalized world we inhabit today. The violent clash that culminated in the Aztec-Spanish war of 1519-21 and the new colonial order
it created were millennia in the making, entwining the previously independent cultural developments of both sides of the Atlantic.

Collision of Worlds…


Book cover of Victors and Vanquished: Spanish and Nahua Views of the Fall of the Mexica Empire

Matthew Restall Author Of When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History

From my list on the Aztecs and Spanish Conquistadors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent a good part of my childhood in Spain and Venezuela while being educated in England, and early on I developed a fascination with the Spanish and Native American worlds. After traveling as a young man in Mexico and in Central America, I was hooked for life. With history degrees from Oxford and UCLA, for thirty years now I have been studying and writing books about the Aztecs and Mayas, Spanish conquistadors, and Afro-Mexicans—fascinating subjects from whom I continue to learn.

Matthew's book list on the Aztecs and Spanish Conquistadors

Matthew Restall Why did Matthew love this book?

After reading one or more of my other recommendations, you might be ready for some primary sources. But the obvious, well-known sources written in the 16th century—such as those by Hernando Cortés and Bernal Díaz—are very long and tend to be misleadingly presented as straight-forward eye-witness accounts. In fact, conquistador accounts are full of inventions and distortions. Victors and Vanquished offers excerpts from such sources (Cortés and Díaz included), but with helpful introductions, carefully selected and juxtaposed with textual—and even some visual—sources by Aztecs and other Nahuas (the Indigenous peoples of Central Mexico). This is intended for the classroom, as the basis for discussion, so it might not be an engaging read the same way that the other books are. But there is no better way to access such a variety of primary sources in translation, presented in an informed, intelligent, and manageable way.

By Stuart B. Schwartz, Tatiana Seijas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Victors and Vanquished as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Focusing on the major events and personalities during the fall of the Mexica empire, Victors and Vanquished helps you go deeper into this historical episode by revealing changing attitudes toward European expansionism.


Book cover of The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660–1720

Andrew Konove Author Of Black Market Capital: Urban Politics and the Shadow Economy in Mexico City

From my list on everyday life in Mexico City.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up hearing stories about Mexico City from my grandmother, who spent her childhood in the 1930s there after emigrating from the Soviet Union. I fell in love with the city’s neighborhoods during my first visit in 2006, and I am still mesmerized by its scale and its extremes. I am especially interested in the city’s public spaces and the ways people have used them for work and pleasure over the centuries. Those activities often take place in the gray areas of the law, a dynamic I explored in the research for my Ph.D. in History and in my book, Black Market Capital

Andrew's book list on everyday life in Mexico City

Andrew Konove Why did Andrew love this book?

Douglas Cope’s book is a wonderful work of social history that explores how issues of race and class impacted the lives of working people in colonial Mexico City. Cope shows that Spain’s so-called “caste system” was more ideal than reality. A person’s physical appearance, occupation, and social milieu shaped perceptions of their race and ethnicity far more than their lineage, which was not something most people documented in this era. The book combines quantitative and qualitative analysis to provide a rich description of everyday life, bringing readers into artisans’ workshops, market vendors’ stalls, and other spaces where people lived and worked in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

By R. Douglas Cope,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Limits of Racial Domination as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

     In this distinguished contribution to Latin American colonial history, Douglas Cope draws upon a wide variety of sources—including Inquisition and court cases, notarial records and parish registers—to challenge the traditional view of castas (members of the caste system created by Spanish overlords) as rootless, alienated, and dominated by a desire to improve their racial status.  On the contrary, the castas, Cope shows, were neither passive nor ruled by feelings of racial inferiority; indeed, they often modified or even rejected elite racial ideology.  Castas also sought ways to manipulate their social "superiors" through astute use of the legal system.  Cope shows…


Book cover of Life in Mexico

Andrew Konove Author Of Black Market Capital: Urban Politics and the Shadow Economy in Mexico City

From my list on everyday life in Mexico City.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up hearing stories about Mexico City from my grandmother, who spent her childhood in the 1930s there after emigrating from the Soviet Union. I fell in love with the city’s neighborhoods during my first visit in 2006, and I am still mesmerized by its scale and its extremes. I am especially interested in the city’s public spaces and the ways people have used them for work and pleasure over the centuries. Those activities often take place in the gray areas of the law, a dynamic I explored in the research for my Ph.D. in History and in my book, Black Market Capital

Andrew's book list on everyday life in Mexico City

Andrew Konove Why did Andrew love this book?

Frances “Fanny” Calderón de la Barca offers a rare first-person account of mid-nineteenth-century Mexico through a series of letters she wrote between 1839 and 1842. Calderón was an upper-class Scottish woman who was married to Spain’s ambassador to Mexico, and her views of Mexico’s people and customs certainly reflect her privilege. She was also a splendid writer with an attention to detail that few other English-language sources from this era offer. While she is often cited for her commentary on Mexico’s turbulent politics in the mid-nineteenth century, the book is equally fascinating for her descriptions of the sights, sounds, and foods that she encountered in and around Mexico City. 

By Frances Calderón de la Barca,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life in Mexico as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The book Life in Mexico consists of 54 letters Fanny Calderón wrote during her sojourn in Mexico from October 1839 to February 1842. In terms of content, Calderón's book includes her personal experiences of Mexico from the standpoint of an aristocratic lady, the wife of a Spanish diplomat, a position that allowed her unique immersion into Mexican culture. Her account covers both public and private life as well as the topics of politics, people, and landscape of Mexico.


Book cover of City of Suspects: Crime in Mexico City, 1900–1931

Andrew Konove Author Of Black Market Capital: Urban Politics and the Shadow Economy in Mexico City

From my list on everyday life in Mexico City.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up hearing stories about Mexico City from my grandmother, who spent her childhood in the 1930s there after emigrating from the Soviet Union. I fell in love with the city’s neighborhoods during my first visit in 2006, and I am still mesmerized by its scale and its extremes. I am especially interested in the city’s public spaces and the ways people have used them for work and pleasure over the centuries. Those activities often take place in the gray areas of the law, a dynamic I explored in the research for my Ph.D. in History and in my book, Black Market Capital

Andrew's book list on everyday life in Mexico City

Andrew Konove Why did Andrew love this book?

Few scholars have done more to demystify the nature of crime in Mexico than Pablo Piccato. His book City of Suspects is a nuanced history that reveals that the very meaning of crime was contested in early twentieth-century Mexico City. While Mexican elites tried to define criminals as a social class, the urban poor, who experienced crime as a part of their everyday lives, saw crime as an individual phenomenon. This book, like the others on this list, is also a story about the ways people used and thought about public space. At a time when Mexico’s government sought to transform the capital into a modern metropolis along the lines of Paris or New York, the poor resisted efforts to exclude them from that future.

By Pablo Piccato,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked City of Suspects as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In City of Suspects Pablo Piccato explores the multiple dimensions of crime in early-twentieth-century Mexico City. Basing his research on previously untapped judicial sources, prisoners' letters, criminological studies, quantitative data, newspapers, and political archives, Piccato examines the paradoxes of repressive policies toward crime, the impact of social rebellion on patterns of common crime, and the role of urban communities in dealing with transgression on the margins of the judical system.
By investigating postrevolutionary examples of corruption and organized crime, Piccato shines light on the historical foundations of a social problem that remains the main concern of Mexico City today. Emphasizing…


Book cover of Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico

Andrew Konove Author Of Black Market Capital: Urban Politics and the Shadow Economy in Mexico City

From my list on everyday life in Mexico City.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up hearing stories about Mexico City from my grandmother, who spent her childhood in the 1930s there after emigrating from the Soviet Union. I fell in love with the city’s neighborhoods during my first visit in 2006, and I am still mesmerized by its scale and its extremes. I am especially interested in the city’s public spaces and the ways people have used them for work and pleasure over the centuries. Those activities often take place in the gray areas of the law, a dynamic I explored in the research for my Ph.D. in History and in my book, Black Market Capital

Andrew's book list on everyday life in Mexico City

Andrew Konove Why did Andrew love this book?

Juan Villoro’s memoir takes readers on a tour of contemporary Mexico City that is also a meditation on chilangos’ (Mexico City residents) relationship with the past. The book bounces between the author’s childhood in the neighborhoods of Mixcoac and Del Valle and the present day, traversing the sprawling metropolis and giving readers a sense of its scale and complexity. Through Villoro, we meet the sewer cleaners and tire repairmen who keep the city humming. We visit monuments like the Angel of Independence and Chapultepec Castle and the bustling spaces of Santo Domingo Plaza and Tepito—places that seem to hover between past and present and myth and reality. At once spry and erudite, the book is an immensely satisfying rumination on the city and its people. 

By Juan Villoro, Alfred MacAdam (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Horizontal Vertigo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At once intimate and wide-ranging, and as enthralling, surprising, and vivid as the place itself, this is a uniquely eye-opening tour of one of the great metropolises of the world, and its largest Spanish-speaking city.
 
Horizontal Vertigo: The title refers to the fear of ever-impending earthquakes that led Mexicans to build their capital city outward rather than upward. With the perspicacity of a keenly observant flaneur, Juan Villoro wanders through Mexico City seemingly without a plan, describing people, places, and things while brilliantly drawing connections among them. In so doing he reveals, in all its multitudinous glory, the vicissitudes and…


Book cover of Living Waters: Reading the Rivers of the Lower Great Lakes

John William Nelson Author Of Muddy Ground: Native Peoples, Chicago's Portage, and the Transformation of a Continent

From my list on the history and majesty of the Great Lakes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Ohio, just south of the Great Lakes. As a kid, I spent time on the Lakes fishing with my dad. I’ve been fascinated with these freshwater seas and their ecological richness ever since. My love for the Lakes eventually merged with my passion for early American history when I attended graduate school at Notre Dame. There, I began researching how Native peoples understood and utilized the unique geography of the Lakes. That work grew into my first book, Muddy Ground, and I anticipate the rest of my career as a historian will be dedicated to studying the environmental and human history of the Great Lakes region.

John's book list on the history and majesty of the Great Lakes

John William Nelson Why did John love this book?

As you can already tell, I love a good travelogue. And as someone who was drawn to the Great Lakes originally via canoe, I found a fellow-traveler in Margaret Wooster.

Her vantage point comes from the hull of her boat, as she canoes and portages her way around the rivers that drain into Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and the St. Lawrence River. In canoeing these waterscapes, she recounts the many centuries of history of the area but also shares her perspective as a conservationist when it comes to the challenges of protecting the Lakes and their rivers in our current moment.

Her attention to ecological detail, her rapt descriptions of wetlands riches, and her local storytelling invoke the intwined human and aquatic histories of this region. 

By Margaret Wooster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living Waters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Margaret Wooster is the author of Somewhere to Go on Sunday: A Guide to Natural Treasures in Western New York. She lives in Buffalo, New York.


Book cover of Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.

Elizabeth Randall Author Of An Ocklawaha River Odyssey: Paddling Through Natural History

From my list on saving Florida from becoming an arid dump of toxic waste.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in Florida since 1969, attended public school here, and received my Master’s degree from a state college. My husband, Bob Randall, a photographer and an entrepreneur, and I have written six nonfiction books about Florida. An Ocklawaha River Odyssey is our favorite. Kayaking the 56 miles of winding waterways became less of a research expedition and more of a spiritual journey as the ancient river cast its spell on us. From wildlife, including manatees and monkeys, to wild orchids and pickerelweed, the Ocklawaha provides more than exercise and recreation; it also touches your soul. I hope my writing and Bob’s photography provide that experience for our readers.

Elizabeth's book list on saving Florida from becoming an arid dump of toxic waste

Elizabeth Randall Why did Elizabeth love this book?

I love this book because I learned so much about the quality and quantity of water in Florida. Because of this book and the knowledge I gained, I was able to publicly refute a former senator’s op-ed extolling the benefit of holding tanks for water underground, which, as Barnett explains, causes arsenic infiltration.

The quality of Florida’s water has been a serious concern since 2007 when the book was published and continues to be today. 

By Cynthia Barnett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mirage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Part investigative journalism, part environmental history, Mirage reveals how the eastern half of the nation-historically so wet that early settlers predicted it would never even need irrigation-has squandered so much of its abundant freshwater that it now faces shortages and conflicts once unique to the arid West.

Florida's parched swamps and supersized residential developments set the stage in the first book to call attention to the steady disappearance of freshwater in the American East, from water-diversion threats in the Great Lakes to tapped-out freshwater aquifers along the Atlantic seaboard.

Told through a colorful cast of characters including Walt Disney, Jeb…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the water supply, architecture, and the Aztecs?

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