Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest by Matthew Restall

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Here is an intriguing exploration of the ways in which the history of the Spanish Conquest has been misread and passed down to become popular knowledge of these events. The book offers a fresh account of the activities of the best-known conquistadors and explorers, including Columbus, Cortes, and Pizarro.
Using a wide array of sources, historian Matthew Restall highlights seven key myths, uncovering the source of the inaccuracies and exploding the fallacies and misconceptions behind each myth. This vividly written and authoritative book shows, for instance, that native Americans did not take the conquistadors for gods and that small numbers of vastly outnumbered Spaniards did not bring down great empires with stunning rapidity. We discover that Columbus was correctly seen in his lifetime--and for decades after--as a briefly fortunate but unexceptional participant in efforts involving many southern Europeans. It was only much later that Columbus was portrayed as a great man who fought against the ignorance of his age to discover the new world. Another popular misconception--that the Conquistadors worked alone--is shattered by the revelation that vast numbers of black and native allies joined them in a conflict that pitted native Americans against each other. This and other factors, not the supposed superiority of the Spaniards, made conquests possible.
The Conquest, Restall shows, was more complex--and more fascinating--than conventional histories have portrayed it. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest offers a richer and more nuanced account of a key event in the history of the Americas.

About Matthew Restall

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Matthew Restall is Professor of Latin American History, Women's Studies, and Anthropology, and Director of Latin American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of five books, including Maya Conquistador and The Maya World. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania.
Published July 24, 2003 by Oxford University Press, USA. 240 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest

Kirkus Reviews

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Over the last half-century, many writers on the Spanish conquest of the Americas have confronted such thorny problems as the Black Legend and the demography of the pre-Columbian hemisphere, dispelling once-prevailing notions about, for example, why Coronado found so few Indians on his trip across...

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Publishers Weekly

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Rejecting the implicit juxtaposition of""subhuman"" Indians with""superhuman"" Europeans, Restall asserts instead that, through war and epidemic, native societies retained much of their autonomy and cohesion, and""turned calamity into opportunity."" Restall's provocative analysis, wide-ranging sc...

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Project MUSE

Matthew Restall has written a serious and important book, but one that is also delightful as it addresses issues about the Spanish conquest that have long intrigued scholars.

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