This comic-book–like synthesis of the Aztec empire surveys the history and culture of one of the major civilizations of pre-Hispanic Mexico.
The book touches on religion, architecture, education, the arts, and the Spanish invasion. Information is presented in concise paragraphs accompanying illustrated panels. The snappy dialogue within the speech bubbles has a decidedly contemporary slant. However, from the introductory assertion that Mesoamerica is a region of Central America to the foldout timeline that indicates that Cortés landed in Central America rather than Mexico—which happens to be in North America—the credibility of the content is suspect. Imogen Greenberg describes the Aztecs as an “ancient people” despite the fact they were historical contemporaries of Henry VIII at the time of the conquest. The Olmecs were using chocolate by 1900 B.C.E., yet the back cover implies that the Aztecs “discovered” chocolate—over 3,000 years later. The primitive earth-tone digital graphics are either incongruous or anachronistic in many instances. Maya structures and Toltec pillars, which predate the Aztecs by centuries, are presented as examples of the Aztecs’ “amazing buildings.” Not only do they adorn the cover, they are scattered across a sandy, Egyptian-esque landscape that also includes the occasional saguaro instead of the region’s prickly pear cactus. The touted 500-year timeline hardly encompasses 200 years. And there is no pronunciation guide. Companion title The Ancient Greeks publishes simultaneously. Its timeline is said to stretch 3,000 years, including several events that occurred “Way back when,” but its recorded history spans but 200. Neither volume includes a bibliography or suggestions for further research.
Ineffective and misleading. (Graphic nonfiction. 8-11)