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  • Conquistador

  • Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs
  • Written by: Buddy Levy
  • Narrated by: Patrick Lawlor
  • Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, World
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (28 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It was a moment unique in human history: the face-to-face meeting between two men from civilizations a world apart.

In 1519 Hernán Cortés arrived on the shores of Mexico, determined not only to expand the Spanish empire but to convert the natives to Catholicism and carry off a fortune in gold. That he saw nothing paradoxical in his intentions is one of the most remarkable and tragic aspects of this unforgettable story.

In Tenochtitlán, Cortés met his Aztec counterpart, Montezuma: king, divinity, and commander of the most powerful military in the Americas. Yet in less than two years, Cortés defeated the entire Aztec nation in one of the most astounding battles ever waged.

The story of a lost kingdom, a relentless conqueror, and a doomed warrior, Conquistador is history at its most riveting.

©2008 Buddy Levy (P)2008 Tantor

What the critics say

"Lively account of the Spanish conquest of Mexico." ( Kirkus)
"Drawing heavily on both Spanish and Aztec sources...Levy gives a straightforward telling of the entire story.... Well-written.... Highly recommended." ( Library Journal)

What listeners say about Conquistador

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

extremely detailed

as a person that lived in Tabasco and in the Yucatan for a while I appreciate the detail of this story. a true gem

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Great history & great historical writing

The conquest of Mexico, 1519-21, by the Spaniards, is one of the most seminal and fascinating events in history resulting in the destruction of a rich, mighty yet flawed civilization that took hundreds of years to build and advance; but only two years to destroy, brick by brick. The author, with near 500 years of evidence and scholarship, has captured the fantastic details of the story in a style that reads like a great historical novel, only this narrative yarn is true. The historical outcome of 1521 was not inevitable in a military or political sense. A similar conquest or subjugation likely would have occurred much, much later. But the success, for Spain and the Mexica’s enemies belong to the military and political genius of Cortes, an adventurer with modest previous experience in actual soldiery. Well aware that the victors write history, the author objectively assesses Cortes’ conquest as one of the great achievements in historical infamy. The author, properly captures the magnitude of the ‘butcher’s bill.’ As a conqueror Cortes’s political and military skills did in 2-3 years what it took Caesar nearly 8 years and Alexander 11 years. The author captures the controlled fanaticism, informed by a sincere zealous religious piety of the greatest conquistador. How quickly he recovered from disasters caused by bad decisions. How he maintained the loyalty and affection of his troops; the respect and confidence of his often unreliable Meso allies (after he slaughtered some of them originally) who’s manpower and logistical support were indispensable, overlooked and uncredited, for Cortes’ success. Cortes led an allied invasion against the Mexica’s. The privations, indescribable hardships, endured by Cortes and his men, and allies, that only intensified personal greed to win gold and glory for God and Spain; always, obsequiously, setting aside Emperor Charles V’s 20% take, off the top, every treasure count time. A must read, a must listen to work.

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An engaging historical account

The story was entertaining and thorough. It is what I wish history class would have been in high school.

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blew me away, beautiful

such an interesting point in history, amazing book, you won't be disappointed ,thank you you

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Victor
  • 2011-02-27

A Great Book

A book will worth your time. I found myself trying to figure out the "bad guys" and the "good guys" and realized that I couldn't do it. The human sacrifices revolted me but the treachery and greed of the Cortes expedition disgusted me. Anyone interested in the forces that transformed the Americas should get this book.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2011-08-06

This will give you the rest of the story.

I chose this book because I love history and knew NOTHING about Cortez except some vague high school history or Hollywood account of greedy Spaniards unnecessarily wiping out the poor, innocent Aztecs . Um. Not the whole story. Granted, the Aztecs were minding their own business when Cortez arrived - having built the largest civilization on the planet. Granted, there was the whole gold and greed thing, but there was also disgust for human sacrifice and roasted babies. Which was worse? This book does a great job of explaining how the whole conquering thing went down. The book was really good and the narrator did a good job. Other reviewers commented on his silly Spanish accent - and I agree. But, it made me snort/laugh every time I heard it - so that's not so bad, is it? I agree with another reviewer - I would have liked to have seen the wonders that Cortez saw.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Stephen P. Hale
  • 2018-12-20

Fun book. Horrendous pronunciation.

The book is fun, and a helpful narrative of Cortes’ invasion.

The reader, however, butchers even the most well known words including the name of one of the belligerent nations! In a book about the conflict between the Spanish and the Mexica, it’s important to be able to pronounce the words “Spanish” and “Mexica.” The reader successfully pronounces one of them.

And it’s not as if Mexica, or many of the other Nahuatl words are particularly difficult to pronounce. Mexica, for example, is just “meh-she-kah.” Easy.

At first I thought it was me, but...it’s not. The performer couldn’t be bothered to make sure he was pronouncing even the most common words correctly.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Evan W.
  • 2016-09-08

Read the Book, Skip the Audible

I think this would have been far more enjoyable reading, rather than listening to the audio. The story was interesting and one that I have long wanted to read given the historic significance of Cortes' arrival.

Unfortunately, the narration is pretty bad. As many have pointed out, the narrator uses this terrible growl to mimic a Spanish accent. Interestingly, he does not do the same when quoting the locals.

While that was bad, the worse part in my opinion was the pacing, especially in the early chapters. I thought the narration was too fast and unnatural. It did not allow for me to take enough time to build the scene in my mind before having to quickly move on. This moderated slightly as the book went on, but it still caused this to be less than enjoyable to listen to.

If you really want to read this, I'd suggest the book over the audio.

6 people found this helpful

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  • WSV1975
  • 2014-09-18

Excellent description of the Conquest of Mexico!

Where does Conquistador rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Really, this is one of the very best history books of the Mexican Conquest i have found. If you want to know the details of the amazing conquest of Meso America by the lawyer, Cortez, listen to this book.

What did you like best about this story?

The amazing detail of the lives of the key players, both European and Indian, the detail of the strategy, the detail of the nature of the Indian lives and how quickly so many accepted the Spanish as the superior tribe. Also, the detail of the politics, Spanish, and Indian, that Cortez had to contend with and manage.

What does Patrick Lawlor bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The telling of the story is so rich. it gives a 3D feel to the story.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

My extreme reaction is: OMG these men were men! They truly were conquistatores, and yet they lived according to the laws of the times. I do not know anyone that could have done what they did, the living with constant expectation of death or mutilation, the constant physical and mental hardships, the hope of riches ( that did not happen for most of them) and the sense of adventure.

Any additional comments?

If you are interested in Mexican or Central American, or Spanish history, buy the book. If you are interested in the class of civilizations, buy the book. If you are interested in the nature of human behavior, buy the book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Benjamin
  • 2017-10-16

Excellent history of the conquest of Mexico

Narration was clear and easy to understand. Story was engaging and interesting from beginning to end.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephen
  • 2017-07-22

Great story, bad narration.

The story itself is fascinating, but the narrator was terrible. His mispronunciation of the names and his attempt to feign accents when speaking in the characters own words was cringeworthy. Half the time he tried to sound like a Spaniard it sounded more like a pirate imitation.
With that being said, the book is well worth reading, and I still enjoyed it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Adrew
  • 2013-01-08

Well written, poorly narrated.

Buddy Levy writes a gripping account of the conquest of Mexico. The narrator, however, fails miserably in his attempt at imagining how the Spanish would have spoken english. I could not stop thinking about Richard Dreyfus in the movie "Moon Over Parador." The narration ruined the experience for me. I can't finish the audiobook. I'll look for the paper version in the library.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tim
  • 2010-01-15

Wow!

Definitely right up there with the likes of 1491, 1776, and Team of Rivals!

5 people found this helpful

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  • peter
  • 2015-08-14

Entertaining Adventure Story

The book focuses on Cortez mainly with a dash of Montezuma and other Aztec leaders to provide a foil. As it should be Cortez is presented as an enigmatic character in history. His ambition and skill matched by his greed and cruelty. The story provides excellent insight into exactly how Cortez conquered Mexico and also what his thought process was during it. There are many asides and anecdotal stories that add to the experience and I particularly enjoyed the epilogue. Reader did a good job, even though as others have mentioned his Spanish accent is not the best. He has good pacing and seems to enjoy the material.

1 person found this helpful