Horgan's background both as a novelist and an historian places him as an authority of considerable distinction on the region and the period embraced by this work. Its title is definitive but lacks the color of the text which conveys the fire and sword of the two hundred years bracketed by Columbus at the start and Vargas at the close of Spanish conquest. While Horgan has held closely to the primary sources, thus making one feel intimately aware of the flavor of the personalities and the times, his selection of material, his posing it in the frame of reference rooted in knowledge of the changing background of personalities and viewpoint, his addition of data pertinent to the way of life at each period, and his novelist's sense of pace and story makes the whole read like fiction. The story opens when Columbus' tiny fleet is straining for contact with the new and unknown land ahead; the section devoted to Cortes and Montezuma is perhaps the most vivid of all, reflecting the vigor and idealism on the one hand -- and the horrors of conquest on the other; the years which passed as New Spain reached forward to pursue a visionary land of glory -- only to meet recurrent disaster and betrayal and deprivation in return for a tenuous hold on conquest are filled with adventure; and the final restoration of a measure of honor under Vargas seems of doubtful balance for the years before. All in all, good history in a broad sweep of time.