The non-fiction book has been optioned by Overbrook Entertainment and the film and TV production company MOTOR, Deadline Hollywood reported.
Published in 2008 by Bantam, the book tells the incredible story of the fall of the Aztec Empire. On one side is Spanish conquistador Cortes. On the other is Motezuma, ruler of the Aztecs.
Overbrook’s partners include Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith and James Lassiter. It produced “The Pursuit of Happyness” and the upcoming Netflix film “To All the Boys I Loved Before.” It’s also behind the “Cobra Kai,” a follow-up to the “Karate Kid” series on YouTube Red, according to Deadline Hollywood.
Levy teaches English at Washington State University. His most recent book is “No Barriers,” written with adventurer Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to summit Mt. Everest and kayak the Grand Canyon. Levy’s other books include “American Legend: The Real-Life Adventures of David Crockett” and “River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana’s Historic Descent of the Amazon.”
Here’s an excerpt from a 2008 interview with Levy about “Conquistador.” It was first published in the Lewiston Tribune.
What made you want to write about Montezuma and Cortes?
I was working with my agent on a book proposal about the history of the Spanish horse, and in my research I realized that Cortes was the conquistador who first reintroduced the horse to North America. I came to understand, initially, how important the horse had been in helping Cortes and the rest of the conquistadors achieve their conquest, and the more I read about the two-year military campaign that Cortes and his men engaged in, and the Aztec opposition, the more fascinated I became.
Was it tough to rewrite a tale that has been told by numerous authors?
Of course, retelling a known story about a period of history which has already been covered in great depth and detail presented numerous challenges. I wanted to try to balance the perspective to some degree, to include as much Aztec source material as I could and try to be fair to the presentation of the indigenous people that Cortes and his men were encountering, and to illustrate and describe the wonder that Cortes and his men must have felt at these unprecedented encounters.
… I hope that my book brings fresh, novel-like storytelling technique to a fantastic, almost unbelievable chapter of MesoAmerican history. Much of what happens in “Conquistador,” whether you are reading it for the first time or for the fifth, practically defies belief.
Does your book bring anything new to the subject?
One overlooked area of the conquest, but one that is fascinating and integral to Cortes’ ultimate success, was his amphibious assault of Tenochtitlan after he had been driven from the city and almost defeated in La Noche Triste. Using rigging, masts, and tackle from his previously scuttled ships, Cortes organized one of the most complicated and impressive military assaults in history. Using nearly 100,000 native porters and bearers, he harvested timber from the flanks of a volcano, built 13 warships on an inland mountain lake, then had the ships dismantled and portaged more than 50 miles to the shores of Lake Texcoco, where he then had allied forces build a mile-long canal and finally launched the warships onto the lake in a massive naval attack. It was calculated, impressive and difficult for the Aztecs to defend against.