The turning point in Cortes' conquest of Moctezuma's forces was the navy that he launched on the island lake at the front of the besieged city. The thirteen brigantines were armed and manned. They provided a psychological weapon as well. Their production in interior Mexico was a feat to rival Hannibal's Alpine elephant drive. Martin Lopez is history's forgotten man in this case. He was the shipwright who had the idea, got Cortes' ear, directed his semi-skilled and native workmen, and prefabricated a waterforce. Built in a forest, tested on dammed up streams, marked for reassembling, torn down and hauled across an almost impassable mountain route, the brigantines tilted the balance of power to the Spaniards and Cortes failed to share the glory. The well-researched book follows Lopez from Seville, Spain where the apprentice carpenter dreamed of becoming a soldier and swordsman. Thwarted until the age of thirty, Lopez joined Cortes as a shipmaster carpenter, but the continuing dream impelled him to join the expedition. Mr. Norman concentrates on the details that boys love--engineering, building and battle. There is some fictionalized conversation, but it is not intrusive nor unrealistic. There are excellent black and white illustrations by Dirk Gringhuis. A short bibliography indicates the dearth of material on Lopez.