#62 -Voyages Of Discovery, Time Life BOOK REVIEW

August 9, 2018

Voyages of Discovery

I’ve sometimes wondered why the Mexican drug cartels are so incredibly brutal. You’d expect gangs to enforce their control through violence, including murder, and perhaps even the occasional demonstrative killing in which the victim is particularly brutally slaughtered. The cartels are a whole order of magnitude above that. If you’re dumb enough to go on some of the specialist gore sites, which I don’t recommend, here are some of the things you can see:

  • A sicario from a rival gang is captured. The video begins in a squalid kitchen with shiny white tiled floor and a half dozen sicarios present. They’ve already chopped both hands off at the wrist, the victim using the bloody stumps to try to push his attackers away as they attempt to decapitate him with a blunt garden tool. They’d already peeled his face off with a box cutter.
  • One of the women present at the above murder, called “the crazy blonde” by her ghoulish fans for her enthusiastic participation, is captured in a reprisal kidnapping and paraded in a field with a few other chubby middle-aged female narcos. After their masked captors talk tough for a while, the women are dismembered and decapitated.
  • A young sicario is held down with a foot on his forehead. His arms are tied behind his back. Two other sicarios flay his entire chest while he moans and begs.
  • A big fat black man is lying in a field, his arms tied behind his back. A gang of sicarios roll him onto his stomach and then cut off both of his arms with a large knife. They roll him onto his back and then disembowel him. The black man’s eyes are open and he blinks several times, though strangely makes no noise or struggle.

Really tame compared to reality

I never made it to the end of these videos and decided my little psychological experiment in “hardening my amygdala to shocking stimuli” was actually a bad idea. I can’t unsee these things now but I certainly learned my lesson to never go back onto such websites. But anyway, the obvious question is why the brutality?

The torture-murders weren’t about extracting information, and nor was that level of sadism necessary to remove rivals. Most gangs simply shoot you. Now that I’ve been reading Voyages Of Discovery, my best guess is this: Mexicans are descended from the Aztecs. It’s in their blood. Here’s a section from chapter five:

“In 1323, King Achitometl agreed to the marriage of his daughter to the Aztec chief… Hoping to ingratiate themselves with their god of springtime, Xipe Totec, they welcomed the Colhuacan princess and then ritually sacrificed her and flayed her. King Achitometl, arriving to witness her wedding, was aghast to find an Aztec priest wearing her skin as a dance costume.”

Yeah, build the wall.

Don’t think this was an isolated incident. You can go back into European history and find some pretty grim executions. What marks the Aztecs as different is both the sheer scale of their sadistic depravity, and how it was interwoven into their very religion. Here’s another description:

“Human sacrifice was central to Aztec civilisation. Each year between 10,000 and 20,000 victims met their deaths in religious rituals… Taking one limb each, they stretched their prey over a 50-centimetre-high stone block. A fifth priest, wielding a razor-sharp stone knife, made a swift sideways stroke across the chest, cutting through the breastbone and ribs. The still-beating heart was wrenched out and held aloft to the sun.”

When the Spanish conquistadors finally showed up and put an end to this butchery, you can make a solid claim they were liberating the Central Americans from the Aztec yoke, brutal though the wops were. There were lots of other interesting facts in this book that really struck me as significant and yet not generally known. For example, I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about Europe being evil for bringing new illnesses to the Americas that wiped out the native populations.

Oh god, how awful!!! etc….


There’s a wonderful PC game about this era

Well, chapter two talks about the Italian Renaissance that centred around Florence in the 1400s, triggered by the rediscovery of Roman and Greek classics that were preserved in Arabic and then translated into Latin. The instability of warring Italian city states proved a fertile breeding ground for artists and scholars as the rich controlling families such as the Medicis used patronising the arts as a conspicuous display of power and wealth.

What else triggered it?

The massive depopulation of the region through the Black Death in 1347. By the year 1353 it had killed an estimated one third of the European population. Florence had 100,000 people on the eve of the Black Death and didn’t climb back to the 50,000 mark until two hundred years later. Milan lost half it’s people and Pisa three quarters.

Where did the Black Death come from? Rats brought by invading Mongols to the near East, which then boarded the Turk and Arabic merchant ships. Yeah, Orcs from Mordor brought diseases that wiped out a third of Europe. You don’t hear the Left talking about that, do you [1].


Assassins Creed 2 is a romp through Renaissance Florence.

I found the Renaissance fascinating and didn’t realise it was ideologically motivated by humanism, of turning the arts away from standardised glorification of God and to an accurate and mathematical observation of nature. Also fascinating was the chapter on Bohemia’s holy wars, the main takeaway being the utter corruption and evil of the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire [3]. I don’t know if 1400s Vatican was as bad as it is now, as at least then they weren’t promoting the invasion of Europe by Africans, female priests, gangs of homosexuals dominating the clergy, or running international child trafficking networks through Mexico. But they were pretty bad.

The most interesting factoid of all was in chapter one, about the rivalry between the Portuguese and Spanish maritime explorers who discovered the Americas and the southern tip of Africa. Have you ever wondered why Brazil speaks Portuguese whereas all the other wops speak Spanish? “Because it was a Portuguese colony” is not the right answer. Obviously you must wonder why it was Portuguese.

Well, the bickering between Spain and Portugal was ended by the Treaty Of Tordesillas in 1494 brokered by the Vatican. At that time the pope, Alexander XI, was a Spaniard who had been elected only the previous year with the backing of Queen Isabella of Spain. The pope attempted a fit-up job to screw the Portuguese by creating a north-south demarcation line out in the empty Atlantic. Everything to the West was Spain’s, to the East was Portugal’s.

At that time, explorers had charted the West Coast of Africa and found it mostly shit. They had been unable to reach India around the Cape Of Good Hope (where all the expensive spices were that stimulated the exploration because currently Muslims controlled all the land caravan routes). To the West of the line was Cuba and Hispanola, discovered by Columbus two years earlier, and they thought it was only a short hop from there to India.

Nobody had discovered Brazil yet, almost all of which turned out to be east of the line.


Dumb bastards, yesterday

Stupid fucking Spanish.

[1] Just as the African slave trade run by Arabs and Ottomans, far bigger than that run by Europeans and Americans [2], seems to get a pass whereas white people are supposed to feel very guilty about buying African slaves from other Africans.
[2] Actually, Jews. Something like 90% of all “American” slave traders where actually as American as Ben Shapiro and Bill Kristol.
[3] Which was neither Holy, Roman, or even really an Empire.


  1. I too watched the sicario execution you talk about as the first anecdonte, becoming interested in the mexican gang culture after reading The Cartel by Don Winslow. I enjoy these posts a lot, great stuff Nick [Fucking horrible wasn’t it? Yep, I read that Winslow book too. Loved it, especially that little psycho who the Zetas use to blow up the party. Anyway, thanks for the comment and I hope your biz is doing well. K.]

    • Thanks – I appreciate it. I’m Getting there bit by wicked bit.. Just arrived in Sarajevo with a few guys timed to coincide with the International Film Festival, a lot of talent about, not quite Klaipėda Sea Festival or Odessa standard but still makes Oxford Street look like Butlins [I love Sarajevo but I went just before the festival, and then during Ramadan. Bad timing. K.]

  2. Small correction: It’s Alexander VI, btw

  3. 1400s Vatican …..? it would appear that they were pretty bad……
    I read an interesting account of the Byzantine empire , “ Lost to the West – the forgotten Byzantine empire that rescued Western civilization “ by a Lars Brownworth.
    The ending years are particularly sad….
    A Vatican sponsored crusade of the holy lands ends up pillaging the wealthy but declining Constantinople instead. The destruction and loss of wealth caused by this Vatican mission weakened the empire so much that it was unable to continue fighting the muslims and succumbed to the Turks in 1453.

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