The first part of his trilogy on the Spanish Empire, Hugh Thomas's Rivers of Gold brings the rise of Spain's global empire vividly to life, capturing the spirit of an ebullient age. Inspired by hopes of both riches and of converting native people to Christianity, the Spanish adventurers of the fifteenth century convinced themselves that an Earthly Paradise existed in the Caribbean. This is the story of the hundreds of conquistadors who set sail on the precarious journey across the Atlantic - taking with them wheat, the horse, the guitar and the wheel as well as guns, malaria and slaves - to create an empire that made Spain the envy of the world. 'Affirms Hugh Thomas's record as one of the most productive and wide-ranging historians of modern times' The New York Times 'Splendid ... bold and strong in its outlines, rich in fasinating details' Paul Johnson, Literary Review 'So steeped is he in the spirit of the time, so familiar with its people and places that we almost feel he must have been there at the time' Sunday Telegraph 'A vivid, dramatic and compelling narrative' Arthur Schlesinger, Jr 'As a historian, Thomas is master of the big picture ... Rivers of Gold sweeps us restlessly on' Jonathan Keates, Spectator 'An epic history of an extraordinary age' Michael Kerrigan, Scotsman Hugh Thomas is the author of, among other books, The Spanish Civil War (1962) which won the Somerset Maugham Award, Conquest: Montezuma, Cortes and the Fall of Old Mexico (1994), An Unfinished History of the World (1979) and The Slave Trade (1997). The second volume of his planned trilogy on the Spanish Empire, The Golden Age: The Spanish Empire of Charles V was published in 2011.