• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

EL's Book Club #001: The Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Díaz

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
Staff Member
May 30, 2004
27,311
58,363
2,365
Cortes is absolutely a badass. There's one situation relatively early on that he plays so deftly, outmaneuvering everyone, which immediately impressed me:










Basically, Montezuma's tax collectors arrive. Cortes instructs the locals, who hate Montezuma and his tax men (who take whatever money and women they want), to arrest them and string them up, winning the favor of the locals, essentially deifying Cortes' party. Then Cortes secretly frees two of the strung up tax collectors and summons them, pretending to have no awareness or involvement of the events that transpired, seeing as how he and his men took no part in the arrest themselves. He treats them well and tells them to relay to Montezuma that he is their friend and ally, which they of course do since they were about to be sacrificed by the locals, and Cortes had just "saved" them. Upon returning to Mexico City, the freed tax collectors convince Montezuma that Cortes is not actually hostile to them, and this confuses Montezuma and stops him from mobilizing his army, setting up Cortes' party for their peaceful arrival to Mexico City and all the subsequent events that transpire in Cortes' favor.
 

TTOOLL

Member
Mar 22, 2012
4,137
3,109
860
Cortes is absolutely a badass. There's one situation relatively early on that he plays so deftly, outmaneuvering everyone, which immediately impressed me:










Basically, Montezuma's tax collectors arrive. Cortes instructs the locals, who hate Montezuma and his tax men (who take whatever money and women they want), to arrest them and string them up, winning the favor of the locals, essentially deifying Cortes' party. Then Cortes secretly frees two of the strung up tax collectors and summons them, pretending to have no awareness or involvement of the events that transpired, seeing as how he and his men took no part in the arrest themselves. He treats them well and tells them to relay to Montezuma that he is their friend and ally, which they of course do since they were about to be sacrificed by the locals, and Cortes had just "saved" them. Upon returning to Mexico City, the freed tax collectors convince Montezuma that Cortes is not actually hostile to them, and this confuses Montezuma and stops him from mobilizing his army, setting up Cortes' party for their peaceful arrival to Mexico City and all the subsequent events that transpire in Cortes' favor.
I just passed this part. Incredible.

I'm really enjoying the dry narrative and I'm thinking about reading those 5 letters written by Cortes to the king.
 

Tesseract

Crushed by Thanos
Dec 7, 2008
56,350
54,944
1,745
The Pentagon
finished, extraordinary and often explicit military valour of cortes and his men

interesting to note that diaz wrote this when he was 70 from his own account so no exaggerations could be made

'i will now proceed to relate other matters in which if i am not so correct as i ought to be, let it be remembered that my situation was that of a soldier...'

further reading expands horizons a bit, re:

cortes remaining to expiate by sacrifice, cuauhtémoc's execution, diaz account about the lack of evidence, cortes' subsequent paranoia and guilt

crazy stuff, more thoughts later and i'm very much looking forward to the next book
 

Maiden Voyage

Member
Sep 5, 2014
5,055
2,125
685
USA
All right. 84% done, just finished Chapter CXXV. Holy hell that battle with Narvaez.

What a badass response to the defeated Narvaez:

This is an insanely good book. Has there been a movie adaptation worth watching?
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Tesseract

Maiden Voyage

Member
Sep 5, 2014
5,055
2,125
685
USA
All right, Book 1 done. I started Book 2 to see what happens, even though it's out of the scope of this month's read. Seems both books are around 400 pages each. If I prioritize, I should be able to have this one done by the end of the month. Which is good because there are a few others I've got in queue and I am curious what books is next month's read.
 
Dec 4, 2019
1,299
1,904
495
Hmm I am at 2/3, with 6 days left.
Jordan Peterson's book is also quite entertaining and it has eaten away reading time.

Better get on it.
 
Last edited:
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: Tesseract
Dec 4, 2019
1,299
1,904
495
And done.
Good stuff! I like how he just gives clear report of what he sees and experiences, without trying to embellish things.

What struck me is how few spaniards got whacked in most battles, they kill a ton of indians, and only like 3 spaniards die.

In a way it's sad how they were lured with promises of riches, only to end up very poor in the end. But quite the experience they lived.
 

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
Staff Member
May 30, 2004
27,311
58,363
2,365
And done.
Good stuff! I like how he just gives clear report of what he sees and experiences, without trying to embellish things.

What struck me is how few spaniards got whacked in most battles, they kill a ton of indians, and only like 3 spaniards die.

In a way it's sad how they were lured with promises of riches, only to end up very poor in the end. But quite the experience they lived.
Yeah, the after-action report of how some of the soldiers even owed money after accounting for the cost of their provisions was frustrating. Díaz ended up becoming a governor though, so it probably isn’t that simple.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tesseract