Rivers of Gold by Hugh Thomas

Rivers of Gold

From one of the greatest historians of the Spanish world, here is a fresh and fascinating account of Spain’s early conquests in the Americas. Hugh Thomas’s magisterial narrative of Spain in the New World has all the characteristics of great historical literature: amazing discoveries, ambition, greed, religious fanaticism, court intrigue, and a battle for the soul of humankind.Hugh Thomas shows Spain at the dawn of the sixteenth century as a w...

Details Rivers of Gold

TitleRivers of Gold
Release DateMay 31st, 2005
PublisherRandom House Trade Paperbacks
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Cultural, Spain, European History

Reviews Rivers of Gold

  • Richard
    There is an anthropological theory that one of the key genetic mutations which distinguish humans from other creatures, including those human-like Neanderthals which shared the earth with us many thousands of years ago, is the one behind the desire to travel to unknown places for the purpose of finding out what is there, even if the journey requires the suspension of the fear of immediate death. This restlessness, combined with potential payoffs ...
  • Ed
    For many citizens of the United States the history of the New World begins in 1620when the first permanent settlements from England finally arrived on the inhospitable shores of Massachusetts Bay. The encounters between the Spanish and Portuguese, particularly the former, and the people already inhabiting the lands that Christopher Colon stumbled across have never been part of the equation. “Rivers of Gold” goes a long way in addressing that....
  • Monica
    Having never expected to visit South America, a fantastic opportunity came my way in Nov. '08 when a Peruvian friend invited me to visit Lima and Cusco. I don't read Spanish and had only a sketchy knowledge of Spanish Colonial history. I was compelled to read as much about it as possible before traveling there. I immediately starting web-searching for guidebooks and gathering as much information as possible. Since he knows a lot about Latin Ameri...
  • Charles J
    “Rivers Of Gold” is not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for a compact treatment of the early Spanish empire in the New World, this isn’t it. If you are looking for a book that bewails the fate of the indigenous inhabitants of the New World at the hands of the evil Spanish monsters, this isn’t it either. But if you are looking for a voluminous and detailed study of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, that treats the Spanish as...
  • Eromsted
    In an age when the historical trend has been to focus on the suffering of the Indians rather than the adventures of the Spanish, Hugh Thomas has written a massive tome detailing the lives and accomplishments of the people who created the Spanish empire in the Americas.Although Thomas recognizes the frequent brutality of the Spanish in their persistent exploitation of the Indians, he is simply not that interested. The following typical quote descr...
  • Jarrod
    Covering the background and what lead to the expedition of Columbus to the trade and globalization that kicked off with Magellan's voyage, this book encompasses a vital era in history. Anyone interested in exploration or the founding of the new world colonies should read this. Thomas' research and explanation of what happened and how it is quite fulfilling. He works to flow the thoughts from the monarchs in Spain to how they happen in the new wor...
  • Harvey Smith
    The description and name of this book do not prepare you for what you find inside it. What you actually get is a LOT of minutia about who was related to who in 155's Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, England, and almost every other nation state in that whole area. It was so over detailed in this manner that you almost have to skim some sections to keep your mental processes from being hopelessly confused.The idea of the Spanish seeking gold was a...
  • Raymond
    There are plenty of books covering Columbus' first voyage to America and Cortés' conquest of Mexico. This however is one of the few if not the only popular account of everything that happened in between. You get into the nitty gritty of the very first Spanish colonies in Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica, as well as the earliest penetrations of the mainland in Yucatan and what is now Colombia and Venezuela, and the first expedition to Fl...
  • Rich
    Thomas covers from about 1491 to about 1519, which is when Magellan, or at least his crew, circumnavigated the world and Cortes had just arrived in America. If you are looking for a book about the conquistadors, Aztecs, Mayans, Itzas, Olmecs, missions, and major settlements and trade, don't read this. It is mainly about explorers.I liked this book because of the detail it provided about Spain and its explorers. I especially liked the parts coveri...
  • Brett C
    Richly detailed and researched book on the Spanish exploitation of gold from the Americas.
  • Reza Amiri Praramadhan
    In this exciting, but rather gargantuan of a book, we entered Iberian peninsula of sixteenth century, which was divided into Kingdoms of Castille and Aragon, and the remaining Muslim emirates, that soon to fall. Beginning with The Most Catholic Duo King Fernando of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castille zealous effort to drive the muslims out of Iberian peninsula, the subsequent victory (and waves of muslims and jewish forced conversion and deport...
  • Jerome
    A detailed and well-researched history of Spain’s conquests in the New World from 1492 to 1522. Thomas does a great job bringing the atmosphere of Spain, its people, and its colonies to life, the narrative is clear, and his style is usually very engaging.Thomas begins with the Reconquista and ends with Magellan’s voyage. He ably covers the Spaniards’ obsession with gold, their zealous missionary work, and the boldness of the explorers. He d...
  • Kyle Sullivan
    Mostly exceptional. The scholarship at work here is impressive especially considering that this is the first of a trilogy. Mr. Thomas paints a living picture of the leadership of Spain and that brand new nation-state's tentative, savage thrust into the Americas. You'll learn very well the personalities of the day, both heroes, and villains (mostly villains). While this is exceptional work, it must be noted that Mr. Thomas is a historian of the ol...
  • Des
    A wonderful and immersive journey into fifteenth century Spain, and the New World discovered by Columbus, under the patronage of ‘Los Reyes Católicos’, Fernando y Isabel. This monumental tome (764 pages including notes) took me the best part of 10 years (!) to read in its entirety, during which time I restarted several times (meaning that I have probably read the first half of the book at least three times). I picked it up only recently to d...
  • Peter C Lyon
    Wow.Thomas brings notable clergy, such as "pro-Indians" Montesinos and Las Casas, the austere regent-Cardinal Cisneros, and the stalwart head of Americas transactions Fonseca, to life. He also discusses in-depth the Spanish Civil War of 1521, with nobles rebelling against their new European King. Also of enormous interest to me was the role of Italians in impelling Spanish activity in the "New World," in particular Genoese. The roles of "converso...
  • Alex
    Very thoroughly researched, the author details every twist and turn and expedition in the first 25 years of Spanish colonization of the New World. Thomas' narrative is most interesting in discussing the early stages of slavery in the New World. Specifically, how the first slaves were Native peoples sent back to Spain for sale there, and how the early religious debates of the possibility of the salvation of the native peoples (and desire to free t...
  • David Frazer
    This is a good introduction to the establishment of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. However, it does not discuss in depth the establishment of colonies on the mainland, and is inadequate for developing even a cursory understanding of the Spanish presence there after Cortes. The book also dedicates significant time to politics in Spain, which is useful to some degree but extremely dry. The discussions of how the Spanish considered the natives ...
  • John Klinkose
    A really great book. Thomas is the preeminent historian writing Spanish history today for English readers. Having said that it's a hard slog. Worth it I believe, but he sure could use an editor. The lists of names, every person of note who sailed to the New World seems excessive. Like I said, worth it for there is real poetry and awe in these pages. The story of the greatest endeavor in human history. A history that affects everyone even to this ...
  • Mark Davidson
    Somewhat late in life I've "discovered" Latin America and so have been looking for good general histories of the Spanish Conquest period. While I found much in this (and its companion books) of great interest, in the end the entire series was thoroughly unsatisfying. Clearly the author is an expert in this field but these books would have benefited from an entirely more critical editing process. Finding the narrative and larger story in the midst...
  • Nini
    Comprehensive account of Spain during the 1500's and King Ferdinand & Isabella through the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor King Charles V. This is also the period of extensive exploration and conquest that included Columbus, Cortez, Magellan, and many more. Thomas explains the global and local impacts of this period which provides insights into todays world, in particular, the slave trade. Well written and descriptive. Thoroughly researched. Very...
  • Veronica
    I was reading this for genealogy purposes. I know my ancestors were in Mexico very early. They are not mentioned in this book and that's okay. What I did mind was the repetition of how great the conquistadors were without much investigation into the impacts they had to Native American (north, central, and south) populations. He barely touched the surface of these impacts.
  • Simon Bradley
    Excellently written and comprehensive study of the origins of the Spanish empire in the Americas. However given that it takes 500 pages to cover just over 50 years it is not a broad brush study of that empire and leaves you hanging in the early 1520s seeking further reading.
  • Randy Flower
    Good overview of the Catholic kings, Columbus, and Cortes. Lots of detail on the colonizing process of the Caribbean. Wish there had been more on Pizarro.
  • Steve Groves
    Early chapters pre Columbus were interesting, but then seemed to bog down in excessive detail.
  • Ned
    useful. I like the meandering narrative style here.
  • Ifor
    Excellent book, well worth it.
  • Anand Chopra-McGowan
    Too long.
  • Bryan Alkire
    Good detail especially the politics
  • Palmyrah
    This book spans a brief period in Spanish history--thirty years or so, barely more than a generation--but those years were the most eventful in the life of the country. Commencing in 1491 with the fall of Granada, the last of the Spanish Muslim states, Rivers of Gold takes the reader through the consolidation of the Spanish nation under the 'Catholic Monarchs' Fernando and Isabel, the expulsion of the Jews from the newly united country, the voyag...