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This enthralling study which examines the impact of the Spaniards upon the Aztec and Inca worlds is dominated by the personalities involved, in particular Cortes and Montezuma. Their confrontation in the Aztec lake-city of Tenochtitlan is a moving drama of human conflict revealing the dilemma and the enigma of the Indians. It is a story of battles and voyages, full of strange episodes – Cortes burning his ships, Pizarro drawing a line with his sword, saying "Gentlemen, this line represents toil, hunger, thirst, weariness, sickness" and daring them to cross it, and Atahualpa nursing his wound in the hot springs of Cajamarca and watching, with his army, the tiny band of Spanish adventurers descending the green slopes of the Andes.

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