The Conquest of Mexico – Hugh Thomas

The Conquest of Mexico was a historical event and also a book I have been reading, handily enough I recommend the book as a way into a fascinating subject. Here be the review.

Don’t let the huge number of pages(848) put you off, this is a very readable and thoroughly researched account  of the events leading upto the conquest and the inevitability of the action of conquest. But first to the beginning.  Parts 1 and 2 of the book involve the backgrounds of the two civilizations. For the Mexica(Aztecs) the focus is on the subjugation of and subsequent trade with other people in and around the valley of Mexico and also the domestic classes of people and the Gods which they worship. The religious set up is especially fascinating if you like your myths, as the stories mentioned in the book rival anything from ancient Greece or Mesopotamia.

The Spanish chapter focuses more on the capture of the outlying island of the Caribbean, the brutality with which the indigenous populations were treated and the ruthless commercial opportunism that abounded,  and the first explorations and meetings with the indigenous Peoples of the Yucatan and the Totanacs of Mexico.

The next six parts of the book are a tragic essay on the ignorance, greed and violence that seems to perforate human society.  The clash of cultures,the sheer naivety( don’t know how to do an  ‘I’ with two dots over it) from both sides and the show of colonialism on a new continent show an age that has messages that still resonate today but have seemingly not be learnt. Of course hindsight helps to judge this.

The first two parts were a bit of a challenge to get through but after that it’s an epic read, the sheer amount of facts that are included coupled with the high readability and extremely well researched subject matter make this an authoritative book that anyone with a passing interest(and a bit of time) would do well to read.

2 Replies to “The Conquest of Mexico – Hugh Thomas”

    1. The early chapters, setting out the history of the two civilisations are a bit of a drag, but after that the book does fly along. i always enjoyed reading it in the pub until I realised the book had became a magnet for all the crazy people.


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