Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs

Oxford Univ. Nov. 2019. 320p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780190673062. $29.95. HIST
When the Spanish arrived in Mexico in 1519 to begin the devastating and long process of conquest over the Aztec populations, there was a thriving world already in existence that was eventually suppressed by the invaders. With the goal of examining the Aztec’s history before and after Spanish influence, Townsend (history, Rutgers Univ.) investigates five complex aspects of the time: Aztec politics, moral philosophy, the initial reactions of Aztecs to the Spanish explorers, the lives of immediate survivors after various plagues, as well as surviving generations who struggled against economic and prejudicial challenges. Townsend successfully meets his goal by providing vivid narratives of different historical figures within this period in Aztec history. These accounts are based in reliable, academic research and told in a way that demonstrates empathy while calling attention to prevailing tendencies in historical interpretation by the greater scholarly community.
VERDICT Recommended for college students and academics with an interest in history, Latin American history, Aztec history, and Mexico’s colonial past.

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