The author of many critically acclaimed books, military historian T. R. Fehrenbach provides the reader with this exciting and timely history of the territory that is today known as Mexico. His book sweeps us from the great civilizations of the Olmecs and the Aztecs to the Spanish settlers who brutally claimed the land for their own, and from the political and economic revolutions of the nineteenth century to recent history with its government scandals. In this newly updated edition, Fehrenbach explains in lucid and compelling prose all of the riveting details that form the history of this turbulent nation.
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April 01, 1995
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Excerpt from Fire and Blood by T.R. Fehrenbach
The rise of man in ancient Mexico is shrouded in mystery.
For that matter, no one knows for certain where or when the human race began, or how it became differentiated and scattered across the globe. Scientists have deduced from the study of skeletal fragments that the genus Homo appeared in Africa during the late Pleistocene era some hundred thousand years ago, with perhaps a half million or more years of cultural evolution already in his past. Bones also indicate that Homo sapiens, true man, the symbol-drawer and weapon-maker, the hunter and killer, began forging into a still subarctic Europe out of Asia about 30,000 B.C. And about the same time, as prehistory goes, human beings also entered the Americas.
The old bones of possible human ancestors -- larger apes, pithecanthropi, or hominids such as Neanderthal men have never been found in the Western Hemisphere. The first Americans, tall, erect, gregarious, using fire, wearing animal skins, and armed with flint-tipped spears, arrived from the Eastern Hemisphere.
Thirty to forty thousand years ago, during the last great Ice Age, from which the earth is still emerging, huge areas of the northern hemisphere were covered with glaciers. Ice gripped much of what is now the United States. Southwestern North America, however, was fertile. The high plateaus of these southlands were rich savannahs of waving grasses, dotted with trees and sweetwater lakes. They teemed with mammalian life, and these regions, if not man's cradle, were certainly vast nurseries for the species.