Inga Clendinnen

Ambivalent Conquests


An interesting look at the encounter of Spaniards and Mayas through conquest and colonization. An eye-opening essay that -as it should- brings into the consideration of the reader all the possible interpretations that the facts allow. I think the title is very appropriate because not everything is just black or white; there aren't just angels and devils in the story of the conquest and colonization of South America. The amazing thing is that all the protagonists have their dark and their bright side to tell. The book is divides unevenly on two parts: the first parts zooms in on the Spaniards, their motivation and arguments for what they did; the second, shorter, centers on what little -if anything- we know first-hand from the natives. The book cleverly picks up on the life of Franciscan friar Diego de Landa. His story serves as the thread that connects all others.


The book is not the typical show-off product from the liberal Ivy League college professors. Plus it's very readable, free from academic jargon.


The minuses are its second -but shorter- part, having no written testimonies from the natives, and the lack of any map of illustration of worth. We are told that the book focuses on the encounters that took place on the Yucatan peninsula, but there's a lot of traveling and action taking place here and there, and no help is given to the reader to geographically situate himself.


If only for the first part, the book is a very interesting read and brings a new light on how both peoples must have felt in their daily encounters with their new neighbors.

"Es cierto que el Romano es libre de hacer todo lo que quiera. Pero también lo es que tiene que soportar las consecuencias de sus actos. No importa que se haya equivocado, que le hayan engañado o incluso forzado: un hombre no se deja forzar: etiamsi coactus, attamen voluit. Es libre; pero si distraído, imprudente o atontado, prometió pagar una determinada cantidad y no puede pagarla, se convierte en esclavo de su acreedor."

Rudolph von Ihering

“Slavery, protection, and monopoly find defenders, not only in those who profit by them, but in those who suffer by them.”

Frédéric Bastiat

On the true nature of the Castro Revolution in Cuba: "The revolution was a cover for committing atrocities without the slightest vestige of guilt ... we were young and irresponsible. We were pirates. We formed our own caste ... we belonged to and believed in nothing -no religion, no flag, no morality or principle. It's fortunate we didn't win, because if we had, we would have drowned the continent in barbarism."

Jorge Masetti -In the Pirate's Den

La anarquía, es decir, la ausencia de fuerza estatal, no es una forma de Estado, y cualquiera que acabe con ella por el medio que sea, el usurpador nacional o el conquistador extranjero, rinde un servicio a la sociedad. Es un salvador, un bienhechor, porque la forma más insoportable de Estado es la ausencia de Estado.

Rudolph von Ihering

"El envidioso está afligido no solo por sus males propios, sino por los bienes de los demás."  -Hipias

[la norma de conducta de los progres] "No hacer nada que alguien pueda envidiarme." -Hipasos




Seguimos a la espera de la reedición de este importante libro del gran escritor español José Pla

Historia de la Segunda República.


También a la espera de este importante libro del genial Rafael Abella.

Finales de enero, 1939, Barcelona cambia de piel


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