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The Wall Street JournalA century before the Mayflower, a single man settled the destiny of the Americas far more momentously than the Puritans ever could. Hernán Cortés's blitzkrieg-like conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1519-21 laid the foundation of a Spanish empire that would eventually stretch from California to the pampas of Argentina. Along the way, he sealed the doom of the native cultures of the Americas, both North and South, and set the pattern of global history right down to the present -- as a series of fateful encounters between, on the one hand, Western ideas, technologies and institutions and, on the other, non-Western cultures, peoples and terrains.
In CONQUISTADOR, Buddy Levy offers a fascinating account of the first and most decisive of those encounters: the one between the impetuous Spanish adventurer Cortés and Montezuma, the ill-starred emperor of the Aztecs -- clearly the wrong emperor at the wrong place at the wrong time. Mr. Levy has an eye for vivid detail and manages to build a compelling narrative out of this almost unbelievable story of missionary zeal, greed, cruelty and courage. By avoiding the kind of ideological posturing that usually distorts re-tellings of the conquest of the New World, Mr. Levy rightly focuses his reader's attention on the story's antagonists.--Arthur Herman, Author of Ghandi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed and Empire and Forged Our Age