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Spanish Colonization Books

Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1999)

A groundbreaking work that shows how environmental factors played an important role in determining history. Uses Pizarro's conquest of the Incas to illustrate how different cultures developed at different speeds due to the prevailing crops, population densities and other factors. Excellent explanation of clash of civilizations in the New World.

John Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492-1830 (2006)

A comparative look at Spanish and British colonization in the New World puts both in perspective. Written by the most famous historian of Spain, this book combines excellent knowledge of both England and Spain with a comparison of the different goals and methods of the two largest colonial powers.

Robert Hine and John Mack Faragher, Frontiers: A Short History of the American West (2007)

A short, concise and clear history of the American West from its Spanish foundations on. Has an excellent section on Spanish background of the American West.

William Prescott, History of the Conquest of Mexico & History of the Conquest of Peru (1845, reprint 2000)

The original and most famous work on the Spanish conquest of the New World. Over 150 years old, but it still is the most complete work on the topic, and is the basis for any serious study of Cortes, Pizarro and their ilk.

Alan Taylor, American Colonies: The Settling of North America (2002)

Taylor does an excellent job of bringing Spanish America into the history of the United States. Readable and full of detail, this book is a good monograph for understanding how Spanish America played a role in the development of British America.

Hugh Thomas, Conquest: Cortes, Montezuma and the Fall of Old Mexico (1995)

An update of Prescott, this is a huge book that investigates every possible aspect of the conquest of Mexico. Thomas is a well-known Latin American scholar, and his prose is readable and full of insight.

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