The subject of this book is the life of the Mexicans―the Mexica, as they said themselves―at the beginning of the sixteenth century. At that time, in the early 1500s, nobody, from the arid steppes of the north to the burning jungles of the isthmus, from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to the shore of the Pacific, could have believed that this enormous empire, its culture, its art, its gods, were to go down a few years later in a historic cataclysm. The period with which this book is concerned is distinguished from all others by the wealth of its written documentation. The Mexicans were interested in themselves and in their history; they were tireless speech-makers and great loves of verse, thus an immense quantity of books and legal documents came into being. Drawing on this rich recorded history, Soustelle creates a memorable portrait of Aztec society.
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