Conquistador Voices: The Spanish Conquest of the Americas as Recounted Largely by the Participants

Kevin H. Siepel. Spruce Tree, , $23.95 ISBN 978-0-9786466-2-2
In this dense two-volume study, independent scholar Siepel (Rebel: The Life and Times of John Singleton Mosby) examines the Spanish conquest of the Americas using the narratives produced by Christopher Columbus, Hernán Cortés, Francisco Pizarro, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and Hernando de Soto. He intersperses lengthy excerpts from the writings of each of these conquistadors with a “connecting narrative” that provides some factual background. While the Spaniards’ accounts are vivid and exciting, Siepel’s narrative is rather dry. More problematically, these original accounts are readily available elsewhere, and Siepel’s framing of them does not draw on cutting-edge scholarship, nor does it present new insights into these men and the roles they played in the foundation of Spain’s American empire. Siepel incorporates some material drawn from Miguel Leon-Portilla’s The Broken Spears (1962), a compendium of Aztec writings about the Conquest, but otherwise presents an outdated view of the small number of Europeans as actors, and the indigenous peoples as reactors. By ignoring the significant recent scholarship conducted from the perspectives of gender, material culture, and ethnohistory, Siepel’s work, though clearly a labor of love, comes across as a rather limited gloss on canonical sources. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 11/16/2015
Release date: 10/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 340 pages - 978-0-9786466-6-0
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