A Sunday Times and Times Literary Supplement Best Book of the Year
"Masterful . . . Cervantes marshals an enormous array of primary and secondary sources to tell the story of the decades that followed Christopher Columbus' arrival on an island off what is now Cuba."
"Spellbinding . . . [Conquistadores
is written] with enviable clarity and succinctness, and displays a remarkable command of a vast literature that includes primary as well as secondary sources. Despite its more controversial features and in part because of them, this is the book that readers interested in the Hispanic conquest of America will turn to for a long time to come."–The New York Review of Books
"Enlightening . . . A vivid portrayal of a clash of very different cultures, each equally astonishing to the other . . . Conquistadores
makes for fascinating reading."
"Cervantes skillfully constructs a complex story, packed with disturbing nuance, which obliterates that simplistic narrative of brutal conquistadors subduing innocent indigenes. The depth of research in this book is astonishing, but even more impressive is the analytical skill Cervantes applies to his discoveries. He is equally at home in cultural, literary, linguistic, artistic, economic and political history. All this sophisticated scholarship could so easily result in an unwieldy book, easy to admire, but difficult to read. Cervantes, however, conveys complex arguments in delightfully simple language, and most importantly knows how to tell a good story."
–The Times Literary Supplement
"Carefully researched and vividly written . . . [Cervantes] is brilliant at showing the wider context: the fall of the emirate of Granada, the eruption of Lutheranism, the rivalry between Spain, France and the Ottomans."
"[A] nuanced, compelling narrative that cuts against the historical grain."–Booklist
"Colorful and sophisticated . . . A richly provocative retelling of the deeds of the conquistadores and the spirit of their age. Cervantes is a gifted scholar and storyteller who offers readers no easy moral clarity."–Library Journal
"A swashbuckling narrative . . . [and] an entertaining yet nuanced account of one of history's most earth-shaking military adventures."–Publishers Weekly
"Lively, complex, compelling . . . Cervantes is too good a historian to try to whitewash the half-century of conquistador activities that is his focus. Atrocities accompanied conquistadores wherever they went, and Cervantes seldom shies away from detailing and condemning them. . . . This book is a terrific read. . . . I could not put it down."
–Matthew Restall, Literary Review
"Superb . . . Conquistadores
tells the story of the discovery and conquest of the New World, and tells it very well. His portraits of Cortés, Pizarro, Hernando de Soto and the other conquistadors are as vivid as one could wish."
"Cervantes places the conquest of the Americas in Spain's political context. . . . A rich portrait of a period that is almost unimaginable today . . . a persuasive reassessment."
"A veritable compendium on the Spanish conquest of the Americas . . . Professor Cervantes is a talented man, and his book is staggeringly thorough."
–BBC History Magazine
"A superb account of a world-changing half-century, interweaving narrative and analysis to compelling effect." –Peter Marshall, author of Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation
"With reason, evidence, common sense, uncompromising candour, and disciplined imagination, Fernando Cervantes makes the conquistadores believable. He guides us expertly through the moral labyrinth of empire, amid warts and wonders, sins and saints, crimes and creativity."
–Felipe Fernández-Armesto, author of Out of Our Minds: What We Think and How We Came To Think It
"A brilliant account of the men, from Columbus to Pizarro, who conquered and settled most of Central and South America. Fernando Cervantes tells a complex, subtle and persuasive story of their actions. It is a story not only of simple, brutal, conquest–but also of cooperation, of shifting alliances, of the infiltration of Europeans into regions which had for long been zones of almost ceaseless conflict, and of prolonged, if ultimately frustrated, attempts to build a society which would fuse European and indigenous legal, social and political systems. The entire history of European imperialism and colonization is in urgent need of complete revision. The Conquistadores
is an evocative, courageous, and immensely readable beginning."
–Anthony Pagden, author of The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters
"Written with narrative flair and meticulous erudition, this splendid book strips away the stubborn fantasies and prejudices which tend to characterise accounts of the Spanish conquest of the Americas. Drawing on up-to-date scholarship, it describes the late-medieval mindset of the conquistadors and analyses the sophisticated political culture of the Spanish Monarchy to show how, from the violent encounters of mutually alien peoples, there emerged multi-ethnic and culturally diverse societies which proved to be surprisingly resilient and stable over three hundred years. This is an indispensable contribution to our understanding of the historical roots of our globalized world."
–Edwin Williamson, author of The Penguin History of Latin America