Clendinnen: Book Review of Ambivalent Conquests

Topics: Maya civilization, Maya peoples, Mayan languages Pages: 4 (1250 words) Published: March 16, 2008
Book Review
Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 1517-1570
Inga Clendinnen book, Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 1517-1570 is centered on the Spanish incursion of the Yucatan Peninsula, affects on Mayan civilization, and the Spanish struggles in controlling these people. In the beginning, Clendinnen focus here attention on the initial attempts and then eventual success of the Spaniards to solidify themselves within the Yucatan Peninsula. She goes into a detailed backdrop of why many Spaniards were financially forced to look for new lands and peoples to conquer, how they came into the Yucatan, and then eventually their initial disappointment and failure. However, the Mayan victory was short lived as strict determination and new idea's to make profit off resources in this region aside from gold pushed the Spaniards to a point of no return within the Yucatan Peninsula and the eventual Mayan defeat. Secondly, Clendinnen touches on the changing ways of life amongst the native societies due to their new Spanish masters. She focuses more on Mayan changes and the forced acculturation to the Spanish ways of life. Furthermore, she comments on Spanish struggles to utilize commercial opportunities due to the poor agricultural, unsuitable grazing land, lack of labor, and the eventual collapse of the encomienda system. Lastly, Clendinnen touches on the divine front, mentioning the friars initially trying to psychologically discern Mayan behavior and sequences to pinpoint the reasoning's behind Mayan beliefs. Then using what they infer as ammunition toward their constant struggle to convert the native peoples to Christianity and squash any sources of idolatry or anything representing the native religion.

The strengths of Clendinnen's book begin with her detailed explanation of the Spanish failure then success in the Yucatan. The book does a good job showing how the Spanish learned from their many mistakes to having many advantages. With...
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