Taking as his subject the 1949 discovery of a burial beneath the church altar in a remote village in highland Guerrero, Mexico, reputed to contain the bones of the last Aztec emperor Cuauhtémoc, Paul Gillingham has written an outstanding historical monograph (and whodunit) that unravels the mystery, follows the clues, evaluates the false documents, explains the national fascination with the bones, dismisses the red herring, identifies the perpetrators of the obvious fraud, and places it within efforts to reframe national identity. He demonstrates in the process his research, analytical, and expository skills — all necessary for the successful resolution of this failed effort at the invention of nationalistic tradition, village honor, and Aztec heritage — so that he can conclude that the burial occurred on a dark and stormy night not in 1529, as claimed by the friar-chronicler Motolinía, but in 1891. Moreover,...

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