A couple of my students have been assigned Hernán Cortés (or Fernando Cortez, if you prefer) for a research project on explorers. Unfortunately, the available text reads as follows:
Cortéz was an explorer for Spain. Cortéz wanted gold. The Native people had gold. Cortéz fought the Native people. Cortéz became leader of Mexico.
Yeah, that's one way to put it.
It makes me wonder why there aren't easy-to-read history texts about, say, Lenin. Wouldn't that be awesome?! Morally ambiguous historical characters whose activities are, in retrospect, entirely unforgivable, but who nonetheless are remembered heroically for various reasons, reduced to simplistic caricatures.
Lenin wanted to change Russia. Lenin became the leader of Russia. Some people didn't want Lenin to change Russia. Those people were class enemies.
Not that I mean to compare Cortés with Lenin: Cortés was obviously much worse. He wasn't even an explorer! A kind-of state-sponsored bandit at best. Oh, it's going to be fun writing this report!