Tenochtitlan 1519-21

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Si Sheppard
Other Publication Information
Softbound, 96 pages, includes an extensive bibliography
Product / Stock #
CAM 321
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site

This publication is available in Ebook format. (ePUB and ePDF)

Copied from the website, the short biographies of author Dr. Si Sheppard and Illustrator-Artist, Peter Dennis provide evidence that both are uniquely qualified in the production of this outstanding publication. “London-born Si Sheppard completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in New Zealand before receiving his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in the United States. He is currently an associate professor of political science and international relations at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York, and has written several titles for Osprey focusing on the interrelationship between geography, technology, and strategy. Peter Dennis was born in 1950. Inspired by contemporary magazines such as Look and Learn he studied Illustration at Liverpool Art College. Peter has since contributed to hundreds of books, predominantly on historical subjects, including many Osprey titles. A keen wargamer and modelmaker, he is based in Nottinghamshire, UK. Also paraphrased from a note in the publication is the following information. “Please note that the original paintings from which the color plates in this book were prepared are available for private sale.

All inquiries should be addressed to:

Origins of the Campaign - Pages 1-5

The author begins the story of what took place in Tenochtitlan in 1519, just 27 years after the first voyage by Columbus, by drawing on H.G. Wells’ work, “War of the Worlds”. The reader will remember that a previously unknown alien race, with superior technology, descended upon the earth and brought death and destruction. In a very real sense, this is what the author describes in “Tenochtitlan”. Aliens arrived by ship (a technology not known to the inhabitants of the inhabitants of Mesoamerica, armed with a weapon (firearms) that could kill from a distance, producing a loud noise, smoke, and a distinct odor, riding an animal (horses) that was unknown to those who had settled and civilized what is now called the New World. What resulted from this contact was the loss of the native civilizations, death by war and disease, and the loss of self-determination for the native populations in a social, political, religious, and cultural sense. This chapter is richly illustrated by artwork as well as photographs, and maps.

Chronology - Pages 16-21

As the map on page 13 is important and of great assistance to the reader who is not familiar with the geography of Mexico (or Mexica in the early years of 1500), the Chronology Table on pages 16-19 will help to provide a timeline of events. The Table begins in the year 1000 A.D. and terminates in 1561, which marks the end of the Conquistador era in a violent and bloodthirsty series of events.

Opposing Commanders - Pages 21-28

As one could reasonably assume, there is more to this story of conquest than that which resulted from the advanced technology of the Conquistadors. There were motivations which pushed Cortes and other Conquistadors which resulted in slaughters of portions of the indigenous populations. Among these motivations the author identifies greed and religion, as well as the desire to “write one’s name in the history books”. Cortes is not the only Commander mentioned on the Spanish side. He is joined Pedro de Alvarado, Gonzalo de Sandoval and others, all who sought fame, fortune, and glory.

Beyond the advanced technology, there were political issues amongst and between the native that actually aided the goals of the Spanish. Included in the native forces and leaders that allied with Cortes and the Conquistadors were Malinali, a female of Royal stock among the natives, Chichimecatecle, and Ixtlilxochitl. Without the support of these native leaders Cortes would have been defeated by Moctezuma II and his forces.

Opposing Forces - Pages 39-44

In this chapter of the book the author lays out the theory that, if not for local peoples allying themselves to Cortes, the Conquistadors would not have succeeded in defeating Moctezuma II. The author describes the weapons and tactics used by the combatants. The author also makes the point that a “weapon” of significance brought by the invaders was not a fire arm, or a horse, or armor. Harking back to H.G. Wells’ story, it was Small Pox.

The Campaign - Pages 45-88

The majority of the book is given over to the coverage of the “Campaign”. The campaign is divided into two parts, the first battle of Tenochtitlan and the second battle of Tenochtitlan. Each of the battles is covered in great detail, illustrated with exceptional artwork and photographs of archeological significance. Combat was ferocious, bloody, and no holds barred. The strategies and tactics exhibited by both combatants are explained and examined in a thorough and detailed manner. Reading this section of the book will take a bit of time as it is “the meat” of the book.

Aftermath - Pages 89-94

The author has laid out the details, the timeline, the weapons and tactics, and the personalities which are significant to the story of the fall of Tenochtitlan. This final chapter of the book will summarize the story that the author has documented. Few in the North Americas are as familiar with this “homegrown” story as they are with the history of the Egyptians. One of the results of reading this book will be that the reader will grasp the significance of a statement by Bernal Diaz who, after seeing Tenochtitlan for the first time, wrote, “It was all so wonderful that I do not know how to describe this first glimpse of things never heard of, seen, or dreamed of before.”

This book is highly recommended due to the superior writing ability of the author, the spectacular artwork by the illustrator, the amount of detail contained within, and the fresh view of a story that is not as familiar to most as it should be. This story, and this book, deserve your attention. Thanks to Osprey Publishing for making this book available for review.


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