05 January 2008

Books on my Desk

The Fall of Old Mexico

Among the texts that have been occupying my time the past week or so, and likely will for at least the next week, are several concerned with the success of Hernán Cortés in conquering the Triple Alliance (Mexica / Aztec Empire) in 1521.

Hugh Thomas, Conquest: Montezuma, Cortés, and the Fall of Old Mexico (1993).

The standard modern work on the subject.

Victor Davis Hanson, Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power (2001).

Offers a novel thesis regarding the causes of European military prowess through the centuries, and one detailed chapter concerned with Cortés and Montezuma: "Technology and the Wages of Reason."

Charles C. Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (2005).

Part one, "Numbers from Nowhere?" concerns demography and depopulation, and devotes a portion of the text to the processes by which the Triple Alliance succumbed to Castilians that they outnumbered.

Allen Weinstein and R. Jackson Wilson, Freedom and Crisis: An American History, 2nd ed. (1978).

The first chapter, "Cortez and Montezuma," was the first thing I read in the first college history course I took. Suffice it to say that the book was new then, and that James Carter was still living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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