This lively book recounts the explorations of the first generations of Spanish conquistadors and their Native allies. Author William K. Hartmann brings readers along as the explorers probe from Cuba to the Aztec capital of Mexico City, and then northward through the borderlands to New Mexico, the Grand Canyon, southern California, and as far as Kansas. Characters include Hernan Cortes, the conqueror; the Aztec ruler Montezuma; Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, a famous expedition leader; Marcos de Niza, an explorer-priest doomed to disgrace; and Viceroy Antonio Mendoza, the king's representative who tried to keep the explorers under control.
Recounting eyewitness experiences that the Spaniards recorded in letters and memoirs, Hartmann describes ancient lifeways from Mexico to the western United States, Aztec accounts of the conquest, and discussions between Aztec priests and Spanish priests about the nature of the universe, Cortes's lifelong relationship with his famous Native mistress, Malinche (not to mention the mysterious fate of his wife), lost explorers who wandered from Florida to Arizona, and Marcos de Niza's controversial reports of the ""Seven Cities of Cibola.""
Searching for Golden Empires describes how, even after the conquest of Mexico, Cortes remained a ""wildcat"" competitor with Coronado in a race to see who could find the ""next golden empire,"" believed to lie in the north. Searching for Golden Empires is an exciting history of the shared story of the United States and Mexico, unveiling episodes both tragic and uplifting.
William K. Hartmann is internationally known as a scientist, writer, and painter. He has published widely on aspects of the Southwest, including his book Desert Heart, and a novel, Cities of Gold. He received the first Carl Sagan medal, given by the American Astronomical Society for popular presentation of scholarly research.