Just read, Conquistadors, Michael Wood

This book accompanied Michael Wood’s BBC series of the same name, Beloved said we saw it. I’ve no memory of it but then it was shown in 2000. Very odd how my brain chooses what sort of information to keep, for example, I remember his series on Alexander the Great much better and think that may have been shown in the ’90s. Anyway, thought I’d read Conquistadors as I am studying empires and imperialism, currently on early modern empires and someone on my course mentioned it. I’d just been reading from a number of accounts written around the time of the Spanish conquest of the New World and Beloved said he had this book. Didn’t even mind if I ‘defaced’ it (underlined and wrote in margins, at least I only ever do this in pencil).

It’s an easy read, part travelogue part popular history and it’s pretty good, especially in helping to understand the world of Aztecs and Incas, their culture and beliefs at the time of the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. It does pretty well in bringing those worlds back to life and contrasting them with the greed of the Spanish. However, without going into too much detail, it’s more of a basic introduction and wasn’t quite what I was looking for. No causality as my tutor would say. It was quite an enjoyable read (although frustrating in parts when I knew Wood skipped or didn’t clarify some detail or other) but don’t think it’ll be useful for the essay I’ve got to write in the next few weeks. Having said that, it didn’t take long to read and I am still ‘on schedule’, although not for much longer it seems…

At the start of this month, I promised myself I could buy more books if I read certain titles from my rather large ‘pile of shame’ and I started off very well. Have been reading Conquistadors on bus to work and am also reading The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald at home. I have to admit to cheating though, have already bought the new books I wanted – felt obliged to, was ordering some Christmas presents from Amazon and thought I may as well get the books I ‘desperately’ need. Now undecided whether to keep them under wraps, I fear that if I open the package, my reading schedule will never be fulfilled! Thing is, I now finally have (yay!) Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, have wanted to read it for ages and think right now, it may actually be the perfect time to read it, may come in useful for essay. See, this is what happens, I really am a hopeless case, I have the best intentions to read all the books I have but get so easily distracted… at least I will finish Penelope Fitzgerald, it’s quite good you know (note to self: must also get the one about Novalis, The Blue Notebook).

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