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Strike Fear in the Land
Pedro de Alvarado and the Conquest of Guatemala, 1520–1541
$32.95 Hardcover


The conquest of Guatemala was brutal, prolonged and complex, fraught with intrigue and deception, and not at all clear-cut. Yet views persist of it as an armed confrontation whose stakes were evident and whose outcomes were decisive, especially in favor of the Spaniards. A critical reappraisal is long overdue, one that calls for us to reconsider events and circumstances in the light of not only new evidence but also keener awareness of indigenous roles in the drama.

While acknowledging the prominent role played by Pedro de Alvarado (1485–1541), Strike Fear in the Land reexamines the conquest to give us a greater appreciation of indigenous involvement in it, and sustained opposition to it. Authors W. George Lovell, Christopher H. Lutz, and Wendy Kramer develop a fresh perspective on Alvarado as well as the alliances forged with native groups that facilitated Spanish objectives. The book reveals, for instance, that during the years most crucial to the conquest, Alvarado was absent from Guatemala more often than he was present; he relied on his brother, Jorge de Alvarado, to act in his stead. A pact with the Kaqchikel Maya was also not nearly as solid or long-lived as previously thought, as Alvarado’s erstwhile allies soon turned against the Spaniards, fomenting a prolonged rebellion. Even the story of the K’iche’ leader Tecún Umán, hailed in Guatemala as a national hero who fronted native resistance, undergoes significant revision.

Strike Fear in the Land is an arresting saga of personalities and controversies, conveying as never before the turmoil of this pivotal period in Mesoamerican history.

About The Author
W. George Lovell is Professor of Geography at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and author of A Beauty That Hurts: Life and Death in Guatemala.
Christopher H. Lutz is author of Santiago de Guatemala, 1541–1773: City, Caste, and the Colonial Experience.
Wendy Kramer is author of Encomienda Politics in Early Colonial Guatemala, 1524–1544: Dividing the Spoils.

Reviews & Praise
“This is the best book-length study, to date, of any of the Spanish invasions of the Maya area. Strike Fear in the Land shows how a sensitive reading of both European and Mesoamerican sources can produce a succinct and significant contribution to the New Conquest History.”—Matthew Restall, author of When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting That Changed History

Book Information
28 b&w illus., 1 map, 1 table
194 Pages
Hardcover 978-0-8061-6494-6
Kindle 978-0-8061-6656-8
e-pub 978-0-8061-6678-0
Published May 2020
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