Legends of the Plumed Serpent: Biography of a Mexican God

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PublicAffairs, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 205 pages
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Few images hold an active claim on the imaginations of countless generations, but the Plumed Serpent, or Quetzalcoatl, has endured through 5,000 years of Mesoamerican history. Visualized as part bird and part snake and also in human form, this benevolent god remained a potent symbol of creation from the time of the ancient Olmec to the Mexican revolution. When Hernan Cortes arrived in his "New Spain" in 1519, the Aztec believed he might embody the Plumed Serpent. Four hundred years later, Quetzatcoatl's image was invoked in the revolutionary art of muralist Diego Rivera. It also took root ten years ago in the fertile imagination of seasoned biographer Neil Baldwin when he toured the archaeological sites of Mexico. At first simply reacting to the dearth of informative guidebooks, Baldwin resolved to unearth the more profound significance of some of the stone carvings he puzzled over at the ruins of Uxmal and Chichen Itza. As his travels and reading broadened, Baldwin set his sights on the Plumed Serpent -- a myth -- as the ubject of his latest biography. Enlivened with photographs of ancient sites, modern murals, and historical documents throughout, Legends of The Plumed Serpent is an erudite tour of the archaeological treasures of Mexico, an unusual biography of a myth, and a detailed cultural history.

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About the author (1998)

Neil Baldwin is the author of many works of biography and nonfiction, including most recently "Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass-Production of Hate" and "Edison: Inventing the Century." He is co-Chair of the NYU Biography Seminar and (as of September 2006) Distinguished Visiting Professor of History at Montclair State University. He lives in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.