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Fifth Sun summary

Camilla Townsend

A New History of the Aztecs

4.4 (203 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

Fifth Sun by Camilla Townsend is a historical book that traces the origins and development of the Aztec civilization. It reveals the compelling story of the Aztecs through the eyes of its own people and unveils many interesting insights into their culture, religion, and politics.

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    Fifth Sun
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    “History is written by the victors.” It’s a saying you’ve probably heard before. And sadly, most of the time, it’s true. Take American history, for example. Kids are still taught in school that, in 1492, Columbus “discovered” America. 

    But what about the indigenous people who were already there when the Spanish arrived?  What about their history? How did they end up in the Americas? 

    Welcome to the Blink to Camilla Townsend’s Fifth Sun. 

    Professor Townsend has spent years researching works on Aztec history, history written by the Aztecs themselves. And let’s just say, her research shows the Spanish didn’t get everything right.

    So, in these blinks, you’ll discover a revised account of what actually happened when the Spaniards arrived on the beaches of modern-day Mexico.

    You’ll learn how the Aztecs went from being a small tribe to founding one of the most impressive civilizations the world had ever seen. And although that civilization was brutalized by European imperialism, you’ll also learn that the Aztecs were never truly defeated. Today, one and a half million people still speak their language, and countless more consider themselves their direct descendants.

    But the history of the Aztec people, or the Mexica, as they called themselves, wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of dedicated intellectuals living many centuries ago. As their world crumbled around them, they made sure its history would not be forgotten.

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    What is Fifth Sun about?

    Fifth Sun (2019) recounts the epic rise and tragic fall of the Aztec Empire. Using powerful, firsthand accounts written by the Aztecs themselves as its source material, this Blink provides a new narrative of the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica. It is the story of a people who resisted colonization and, although defeated militarily, never fully relinquished their indigenous identity.

    Fifth Sun Review

    Fifth Sun (2019) by Camilla Townsend is a thought-provoking exploration of the Aztec civilization and its complex relationship with the Spanish conquistadors. Here are three reasons why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a fascinating look into the clash of two vastly different cultures, shedding light on the conquest from both perspectives.
    • Through meticulous research and compelling storytelling, the book paints a vivid picture of the Aztecs' rich history, customs, and spirituality.
    • Breaking stereotypes and challenging conventional narratives, the author provides fresh insights into the motivations and actions of both the Aztecs and the conquistadors.

    Who should read Fifth Sun?

    • History buffs
    • North and South Americans looking to learn about the colonization of their continents
    • Anyone looking for an inspiring tale of courageous resistance against brutal oppression

    About the Author

    Camilla Townsend is an American historian and professor at Rutgers University. Her work specializes in the history of the Americas and its indigenous peoples. Other titles she’s authored include Malintzin's Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico and Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma.

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