Monday, January 09, 2006

History and its telling

Last night on ABC TV, there were two programs that dealt generally with the Conquistadors, and specifically with Francisco Pizarro’s defeat of the Inca Emperor Atahualpa at Cajamarca.

At 8:30 pm, was the second part of the three part ‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ series by controversial author Jared Diamond

At 10.40 pm, there was a repeat screening of the first part of the three part ‘Conquistadors’ series.

‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ looks at the effect of geography on history, and why/how Eurasia came out on top.

‘Conquistadors’ looks at the events as a Culture Clash, with all the political machination that went on within and between the two camps.

For me, the most telling difference between the two telling was the believed ability of the Spaniards and Incas to communicate during the days leading up to and during the climatic battle at Cajamarca.

‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ is based on the view that communication was barely beyond hand signals.

‘Conquistadors’ took the view that communication and translation was that advanced that Francisco Pizarro timed his arrival to coincide with maximum instability within the Incan ruling class.

It was interesting to see how little the two telling had in common. The basic common elements were the timings of the events, the numbers of people involved and the emotional states of the Spaniards (taken from the personal journals). The rest was so much conjecture, put together to make a good story.

On this I tend to side with Diamond. Firstly, because he did more on the ground work in Eurasia. Secondly, because some of he augments agree with some of my personal views on the things that shape change. That side, it was very apparent that producers of ‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ had a lot bigger budget to work with.

Might see if I can arrange the ‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ book onto this years Christmas present list. ;)

No comments: