Tlacaelel, adviser to an impressive series of Mexica (Aztec) kings, is perhaps the only Mexica individual who was not a king for which enough documentation exists to warrant a biography. Given that the author has devoted her career to assembling, translating, and publishing the scattered works of the Nahuatl historian Chimalpahin, it is not surprising that the book makes heavy use of that chronicler. Accounts by fray Diego Durán and Alvarado Tezozomoc are also cited heavily. The book’s subtitle suggests an emphasis on imperial strategies and decisions by Tlacaelel and the Mexica kings, but new insights on this subject are largely absent.

Chapter 1, on sources, usefully disentangles Tlacaelel as “the man, the office, and the deity.” Schroeder successfully defends him from several early Spanish writers who either omitted Tlacaelel or claimed he did not exist. Chapter 2 traces the early Mexica...

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