100 books like When Montezuma Met Cortés

By Matthew Restall,

Here are 100 books that When Montezuma Met Cortés fans have personally recommended if you like When Montezuma Met Cortés. 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 The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico

David Carballo Author Of Collision of Worlds: A Deep History of the Fall of Aztec Mexico and the Forging of New Spain

From my list on the Aztec-Spanish War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an archaeologist at Boston University with a transatlantic family that spans Spain and Latin America.  My research has primarily focused on Mesoamerica, and prehispanic central Mexico more specifically, but the deep roots of these transatlantic entanglements have always fascinated me personally and as a historically minded scholar.

David's book list on the Aztec-Spanish War

David Carballo Why did David love this book?

A vivid account of life in the Aztec world and the tragic Aztec-Spanish War told by Indigenous scribes writing in Nahuatl during the decades following these events and the transformation to colonial New Spain. Mexican authors began publishing translations of Native-author sources in the late eighteenth century; yet, together with his former advisor, Ángel María Garibay, León-Portilla did more than any other twentieth-century scholar to elevate the voices and perspectives of Nahua peoples, the descendants of the prehispanic Aztecs. The Broken Spears was first published in Spanish in 1959 and translated to English in 1962. It has been translated into many other languages and revised versions since.  Its key sixteenth-century texts include portions of Book 12 of the Florentine Codex, compiled by the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún, and sections of the Annals of Tlatelolco. Within these composite sources, readers can sense the multivalence of the Native authors…

By Miguel León-Portilla,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For hundreds of years, the history of the conquest of Mexico and the defeat of the Aztecs has been told in the words of the Spanish victors. Miguel León-Portilla has long been at the forefront of expanding that history to include the voices of indigenous peoples. In this new and updated edition of his classic The Broken Spears, León-Portilla has included accounts from native Aztec descendants across the centuries. These texts bear witness to the extraordinary vitality of an oral tradition that preserves the viewpoints of the vanquished instead of the victors. León-Portilla's new Postscript reflects upon the critical importance…


Book cover of The History of the Conquest of New Spain

Alan Huffman Author Of Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer

From my list on traveling to dangerous places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started out like most travelers, attracted to new places and to meeting people whose worlds were different from my own. Typically, this meant tried-and-true destinations in Europe until a book project required me to visit an utterly daunting place, the West African nation of Liberia during a civil war. I was in no way prepared for the experience and it changed everything. Seeing how people behave when faced with extreme circumstances profoundly altered my view of the world. Everything was magnified. Though I still enjoy a cup of espresso on the Piazza Navona, there is nothing like traveling to a forbidden zone and meeting someone destined to be a lifelong friend on the roof of a bombed-out building. It opens the world in ways that are challenging and scary, but also incomparably rewarding. 

Alan's book list on traveling to dangerous places

Alan Huffman Why did Alan love this book?

Any account of dangerous travel holds the potential for unexpected revelation, but this one taps a motherlode of rare insights and observations. Part of the reason is that Diaz, a twenty-something soldier of fortune in Hernán Cortés’ 16th-century expedition to the New World, became enchanted by the Aztec civilization that he and his compadres had come to pillage and destroy. Diaz writes vividly and lyrically, with a keen eye for graphic detail, and is unsparing in his accounts of the remarkable brutality on both sides. Five centuries later, his account remains illuminating and disturbing, and shows it’s not always necessary to like your traveling companion to gain insight into a perilous, previously unknown world.

By Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Davíd Carrasco,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The History of the Conquest of New Spain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The History of the Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a new abridgement of Diaz del Castillo's classic ""Historia verdadera de la conquista de Nueva Espana"", offers a unique contribution to our understanding of the political and religious forces that drove the great cultural encounter between Spain and the Americas known as the 'conquest of Mexico.' Besides containing important passages, scenes, and events excluded from other abridgements, this edition includes eight useful interpretive essays that address indigenous religions and cultural practices, sexuality during the early colonial period, the roles of women in indigenous cultures, and analysis of…


Book cover of The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World

David Carballo Author Of Collision of Worlds: A Deep History of the Fall of Aztec Mexico and the Forging of New Spain

From my list on the Aztec-Spanish War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an archaeologist at Boston University with a transatlantic family that spans Spain and Latin America.  My research has primarily focused on Mesoamerica, and prehispanic central Mexico more specifically, but the deep roots of these transatlantic entanglements have always fascinated me personally and as a historically minded scholar.

David's book list on the Aztec-Spanish War

David Carballo Why did David love this book?

The great Mexican author Carlos Fuentes wrote this book as a commemorative reflection of an earlier quincentennial, that of 1492-1992. Fuentes’ book is transatlantic in scope and considers the fraught history of Hispanic heritage in the Americas. The title metaphorically employs the mirror—both of the kind fashioned from obsidian by the Aztecs and the one bringing the viewer into Diego Velázquez’s masterpiece of Spanish golden-age painting, Las Meninas—in reflecting on this mixed inheritance five centuries later. Cultural mixing, or mestizaje, defines the creation of Latin America and its millennial-deep roots in the exchange networks, migrations, political alliances, and colonialism on the part of Mesoamerican and Iberian peoples, on both sides of the Atlantic. Fuentes is a gifted writer and Buried Mirror is what first got me thinking about these historical entanglements when I read it as a college student.

By Carlos Fuentes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A best-selling and lavishly illustrated history of Hispanic culture from the "Balzac of Mexico," The Buried Mirror is a classic in its field.

The renowned novelist Carlos Fuentes has crafted a unique history of the social, political, and economic forces that created the remarkable culture which stretches from the mysterious cave drawings at Altamira to the explosive graffiti on the walls of East Los Angeles.

“A bittersweet celebration of the hybrid culture of Spain in the New World…Drawing expertly on five centuries of the cultural history of Europe and the Americas, Fuentes seeks to capture the spirit of the new,…


Book cover of Malintzin's Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico

Karen Graubart Author Of With Our Labor and Sweat: Indigenous Women and the Formation of Colonial Society in Peru, 1550-1700

From my list on gender in colonial Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a historian of gender in colonial Latin America. I'm always looking for surprises in these stories: men's and women's lives in the past were not narrower than ours, and I love to find their strategies for dealing with a system that was often stacked against them. I enjoy learning that my expectations were wrong, and thinking about the past as a living world. As a researcher who is always stumbling on unusual documents that I have to confront with fresh eyes, I really love a book that challenges me to think about how we can even know about the past, especially in terms of race and gender.

Karen's book list on gender in colonial Latin America

Karen Graubart Why did Karen love this book?

We don't know very much about Indigenous women's lives before and during the Spanish conquest. Camilla Townsend let me imagine how Malintzin, an enslaved Indigenous girl who was presented as a gift to the conquistador Hernando Cortés, experienced and made sense of that world.

I was transported to central Mexico and Yucatán through Townsend's careful but lively reading of art, poetry, and historical writings, her lush building of landscapes and lifeways created a space where I could place Malintzin and understand her choices. Those choices were complicated: she transformed herself from a slave into Cortés' most important interpreter and ally, translating Indigenous diplomats and leaders so that Cortés knew whom to trust, speaking back to them as his mouthpiece. I was convinced that Malintzin was both a brilliant strategist and also a woman with few options and not the outright villain or hero that a lot of the literature wishes…

By Camilla Townsend,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Malintzin's Choices as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Malintzin was the indigenous woman who translated for Hernando Cortes in his dealings with the Aztec emperor Moctezuma in the days of 1519 to 1521. 'Malintzin', at least, was what the Indians called her. The Spanish called her dona Marina, and she has become known to posterity as La Malinche. As Malinche, she has long been regarded as a traitor to her people, a dangerously sexy, scheming woman who gave Cortes whatever he wanted out of her own self-interest. The life of the real woman, however, was much more complicated. She was sold into slavery as a child, and eventually…


Book cover of Gods, Gachupines and Gringos: A People's History of Mexico

Michael Hogan Author Of The Irish Soldiers of Mexico

From my list on the Irish who fought for Mexico.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of 30 books. I live and teach in Mexico. I became interested in the St. Patrick's Battalion story when I moved here in 1990. The only book at the time was Shamrock and Sword, and while I enjoyed the book, I was dismayed that there were no Mexican or Irish sources. I did intensive research in the military archives of both countries and visited every battle site. Spurred on by the fact that one of my ancestors fought in the war, it became a passion. Later, I wrote my book and was a consultant for the film One Man's Hero. The rest, as they say, is history.

Michael's book list on the Irish who fought for Mexico

Michael Hogan Why did Michael love this book?

This nonfiction history of Mexico was compelling because it details everyday life in the occupied country. It also provided details of the US and Mexico before and after the Mexican War.

We get a clearer sense of what motivated soldiers on both sides to join in the largest territorial battle in North America. For Americans it was a great adventure, for Mexicans, the defense of their homeland. I also like the author's use of irony and humor, which gives the book a balance that more academic history cannot risk.

By Richard Grabman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A complete, accessible, and nonacademic history of Mexico for general readers, this volume is a solidly researched introduction to a surprisingly multicultural, multifaceted nation. Presenting Mexico as it is and often with a refreshing wit and humor, this history puts flesh and bones on the dusty figures of the past while shedding light on the common humanity of the uncommon humans who created this unique country and its culture. From Mayans and Spanish conquistadors to guerillas and tourist invasions, the full thread of Mexican history is told here in a fresh, lively, uncompromising narrative for scholars, general readers, and generations…


Book cover of The Native Conquistador: Alva Ixtlilxochitl's Account of the Conquest of New Spain

Camilla Townsend Author Of Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs

From my list on the Aztecs by people who once knew an Aztec.

Why am I passionate about this?

Twenty-five years ago, I began to study Nahuatl, the language once spoken by the Aztecs—and still spoken today by more than a million Indigenous people in Mexico. This has opened up to me a world of great excitement. After the Spanish conquest, many Aztecs learned the Roman alphabet. During the day, they used it to study the texts presented to them by the Franciscan friars. But in the evenings, they used it to transcribe old histories recited for them by their parents and grandparents. Today we are beginning to use those writings to learn more about the Aztecs than we ever could before we studied their language.

Camilla's book list on the Aztecs by people who once knew an Aztec

Camilla Townsend Why did Camilla love this book?

Many people don’t realize that there were Indigenous people who chose to side with the Spaniards.

If they had reasons of their own to support the powerful outsiders, they sometimes did so. One such man had a great-great-grandson who became a writer in colonial Mexico. He took the family stories and did some research of his own, and then wrote this compelling account of the decisions his ancestor made and the actions he took.

I love his pride! (Warning: you have to like battle scenes to like this one.)

By Amber Brian (editor), Bradley Benton (editor), Pablo Garcia Loaeza (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For many years, scholars of the conquest worked to shift focus away from the Spanish perspective and bring attention to the often-ignored voices and viewpoints of the Indians. But recent work that highlights the "Indian conquistadors" has forced scholars to reexamine the simple categories of conqueror and subject and to acknowledge the seemingly contradictory roles assumed by native peoples who chose to fight alongside the Spaniards against other native groups. The Native Conquistador-a translation of the "Thirteenth Relation," written by don Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl in the early seventeenth century-narrates the conquest of Mexico from Hernando Cortes's arrival in 1519…


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 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 Aztec

Andrew Hudgins Author Of After the Lost War: A Narrative

From my list on historical novels that I love to recommend.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with historical novels as a kid somewhere between reading Johnny Tremain and Ben and Me (from the point of view of a mouse living in Ben Franklin’s hat) in elementary school and Mika Waltari’s The Roman and The Egyptian and Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur in junior high. And that love led me to write After the Lost War, a historical novel in verse based on the life of the poet Sidney Lanier, who served in the confederate army in the civil war, survived to start a family and died from tuberculous he contracted as a prisoner of war.

Andrew's book list on historical novels that I love to recommend

Andrew Hudgins Why did Andrew love this book?

Mixtli, an elderly Aztec lord captured by the Spanish, is reluctantly questioned by a Catholic bishop charged with reporting to the king of Spain about the customs and mores of his new unwilling subjects. The bishop is repulsed and appalled by the violent history and, to his mind, sexual looseness of the Aztecs while blind to the violent depredations of the conquistadors who protect him. But the story that outrages the bishop is for the reader a spectacular tragic saga of the end of the Aztec empire from the point of view of the conquered and a telling of what was lost.

By Gary Jennings,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gary Jennings's Aztec is the extraordinary story of the last and greatest native civilization of North America.

Told in the words of one of the most robust and memorable characters in modern fiction, Mixtli-Dark Cloud, Aztec reveals the very depths of Aztec civilization from the peak and feather-banner splendor of the Aztec Capital of Tenochtitlan to the arrival of Hernán Cortás and his conquistadores, and their destruction of the Aztec empire. The story of Mixtli is the story of the Aztecs themselves---a compelling, epic tale of heroic dignity and a colossal civilization's rise and fall.


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.


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