Invasion leads to surrender and a better life for the conquered—according to the invaders, that is. We know this to be the case, and we expect deception to be central to conquest and to histories written by victors. And yet we continue to believe the colossal lies generated by conquests, helping those lies survive for centuries. This preview of a new book on the famous Spanish destruction of the Aztec Empire questions the conquest story we thought we knew, exposing the great lie at its heart. Once we realize how powerful and persistent such deceptions have been, we must surely ask whether official lies to justify wars are merely a thing of the past, or whether they are a present danger that imperils our future?

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