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The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo - Volume 1 cover art

The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo - Volume 1

By: Bernal Díaz Del Castilllo,John Ingram Lockhart - translator
Narrated by: David Prickett
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Summary

Relive the history, adventure, tension and dangers faced by the Conquistadors, led by Hernan Cortes - the Alexander of the Americas - as they make their way along the coast of the new world before delving deep into it’s heartland to clash wits and do battle with the mighty Aztec Emperor Moctesuma (aka Moctezuma, aka Montezuma). 

This memoir is an autobiographical account of the events as witnessed by Bernal Diaz - a Conquistador on that journey - a man from Spain who desperately hoped to carve out a life of riches for himself in the new world and instead found himself on an epic journey of conquest, whilst desperately fighting to stay alive, in previously unknown and unimagined lands. This is a true tale written in his own hand and translated into English.  

It is a gripping account of the events from the soldiers' viewpoint as each day becomes a battle for survival against incredible odds and could easily be mistaken for a work of fiction. Each chapter is filled with jaw dropping details of the journey into that world - a journey that has long since been forgotten and can now be rediscovered. It is a true tale of exploration, adventure and daring that recaptures the spirit of the age and the uncertainties of life as each side struggles to come to grips with the first cataclysmic meeting between two empires from the old and new worlds.  

This is a chapter by chapter account of how these two powerful forces dealt with the knowledge of each others existence and is a very personal account of the journey of this one Conquistador. A tale made even more compelling by virtue of the fact that it is 100 percent true – yet 100 percent unbelievable.

Public Domain (P)2018 David Prickett

What listeners say about The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo - Volume 1

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An Excellent First Hand Account

I read the old penguin edition of this many years ago, and was fascinated by it at that time, so decided to invest in this.

What set's Diaz's account aside from many other military memoirs is that he was there at the centre of it, and for most of the Conquest of New Spain. He never puts himself at the centre of the narrative or blows his own trumpet - he was a simple soldier in the midst of an extraordinary enterprise. He is also very humble, and he is at pains to point out that his account will differ in some essentials from those of more August Personages, because, well, it is actually the truth. Obviously the truth is a variable commodity in any history, but the reader does believe that Diaz is describing the events as he saw them, rather than inserting any political or self promoting narrative.

What also drives it is the cataclysmic thrust of events. Even with the benefit of hindsight and modern attitudes, the Aztecs were a totalitarian, blood soaked culture impossible to like (sorry cuddly apologists -see what actual archaelogists say rather than the politically motivated portraying them as an innocent Alternative Culture), and Diaz gives a human face to the band of roughneck adventurers that brought their Empire down.

I was a little thrown by the Reader's accent at first (Australian? New Zealand? Not Spanish?) but once I'd got over that I sat back and enjoyed the narrative. Hopefully Volume Two is soon to follow.

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  • bbofss
  • 07-03-20

wow!

everyone that cares about TRUTH in history, listen to this, amazing...both on the part of the Indians, and the conquistadors. Please, Please, do volume 2!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Maria
  • 11-01-21

No spanish version!!!!

no good spanish pronunciation, difficult to understand, sometimes difficult to follow
you need to have the book in spanish

5 people found this helpful

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  • eric
  • 30-10-19

First hand account of the Conquest of Mexico

This is only one of a couple of first-hand accounts written about the conquest of Mexico. Which in my mind is one of the most amazing points of history. People ask if you could go back in time, what would you like to witness, for me this is it. I have read this book numerous times and enjoy it every time. It starts out a little slow as they move through the Yucatan and then into what is today Mexico. It is said that Diaz wrote his story after reading the account written by Cortes's secretary Gomara. Diaz felt Gomara had written the account to glorify Cortes rather than get the facts straight. Diaz wrote this in his old age while living in what is today Guatemala. It tells about the travel through Mexico, the tribes of Native peoples encountered, then the entrance into Teotihuacan and his meeting of the emperor. It talks about the Aztec people and their interactions with the Spaniards. Then the destruction of the Aztec empire.
It is an incredible story, take some of the details with a grain of salt and realize that another culture seen through a foreigners eyes can be difficult.
I read that there is a series coming out about this story on Amazon staring Javier Bardem, which if true I am really looking forward to. This is a great chance to get the book before the series comes out.
The narration is a little robot like, but stick with it.

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  • JohnnyBass2420
  • 11-09-19

Epic!! True!! Sad!!

Extremely Entertaining! especially if your into listening to true historical events, & there's no true historical event quite like this one

2 people found this helpful

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  • Christine Purvis Johnson
  • 12-09-21

Terrible narrator!

We were so excited to listen to this on our road trip but the narrator’s Spanish pronunciations were so bad we couldn’t listen to it! His Anglo pronunciations of Spanish names and places were horrendous. Needs to be narrated in English by a person that can speak Spanish too!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Miguel Casillas
  • 27-09-20

A must read for anyone in the Americas.

Beyond imagination the reality that Spaniards and Indigenous people faced.
Well written by a witness of the conquista of Mexico.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customers
  • 04-09-18

wow

It was an amazing first hand account of the conquest of Mexico! Thoroughly detailed and entertaining!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sumguynobuddynoes
  • 31-10-22

A first person eye witness to the Cortez invasion

Inca's called themselves Mexicans. The capital being Mexico. Cortez was sent to open trade with the natives. But they were spurred on by their revulsion of the frequent human sacrifices to their Gods and the allure of gold. Interesting.

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  • Kim McCoy
  • 25-10-22

Tremendous story, truthful, prosaic

Have read other accounts of Hernan Cortes. This one seemed the most honest and straightforward, told by an observant soldier and officer who served with the explorer and conqueror of Mexico. Bernal Diaz del Castillo rendered a full-bodied account of the character, courage, cunning, and command of the Spaniard who won territory, treasure and trust by dint of arms, diplomacy, kindness, mercy, justice, duplicity, brutality, generosity in victory (excepting the measure of rewards for those who fought closely beside him) and quite deep a well of shrewdness.

The first-hand acquaintance of the author with Moctezuma, and close descriptions of the Aztec king's own character and cleverness served to explain how the leader endeared himself to Cortes (and many of his soldiers). They were, for much part, respected rivals, almost friends and allies of a sort, though engaging in a variety of military and diplomatic maneuvers.

Also appreciated were Diaz del Castillo's depictions of his fellow officers, soldiers, and inhabitants - both allies and opponents - of what is now Mexico. Also useful were the narratives concerning Cortes' Spanish superiors, allies and opponents.

It was amusing to hear his periodic comments on the histories of others who wrote about Cortes at the time. He allowed that their style of writing was far more erudite than his own, albeit far less informed and honest in part.

I enjoyed the reader's voice - David Prickett. Though put off by his decidedly English pronunciations of Spanish cities and people's names, I shook off that initial irritation, and went on to appreciate his approach, which struck me as giving good service to the tone set by the author.

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  • Jesse M Lincoln
  • 26-09-22

Wild. Riveting.

This is an amazing account. It is hard to know what is true because of how much time had elapsed and because he was making a rebuttal to other accounts… but certainly much of it is true. The grim nature of their conquest pairs strangely with their insane courage. I am left grateful for having no religious pathology and the privileged reality in which I’ve existed thus far. The Mexicans sounded awful. The Spanish seemed agents of hell. It is hard to appreciate the reality in which they existed.