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Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West

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Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West   Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"In the end, once all the land has been cleared, the Indians and Mexicans tamed, the United States united, there is Carson, a grizzled old man whose only want is to go home to his wife and kids. Whether you bemoan his actions or not, it's a truly American story about a soldier who got the job done." Tyler Cabot, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A Magnificent History of How the West Was Really Won — an Epic Tale of Shame and Glory.

In the fall of 1846 the venerable Navajo warrior Narbona, greatest of his people's chieftains, looked down upon the small town of Santa Fe, the stronghold of the Mexican settlers he had been fighting his whole long life. He had come to see if the rumors were true — if an army of blue-suited soldiers had swept in from the East and utterly defeated his ancestral enemies. As Narbona gazed down on the battlements and cannons of a mighty fort the invaders had built, he realized his foes had been destroyed — but what did the arrival of these "New Men" portend for the Navajo?

Narbona could not have known that "The Army of the West," in the midst of the longest march in American military history, was merely the vanguard of an inexorable tide fueled by a self-righteous ideology now known as "Manifest Destiny." For twenty years the Navajo, elusive lords of a huge swath of mountainous desert and pasturelands, would ferociously resist the flood of soldiers and settlers who wished to change their ancient way of life or destroy them.

Hampton Sides's extraordinary book brings the history of the American conquest of the West to ringing life. It is a tale with many heroes and villains, but as is found in the best history, the same person might be both. At the center of it all stands the remarkable figure of Kit Carson-the legendary trapper, scout, and soldier who embodies all the contradictions and ambiguities of the American experience in the West. Brave and clever, beloved by his contemporaries, Carson was an illiterate mountain man who twice married Indian women and understood andrespected the tribes better than any other American alive. Yet he was also a cold-blooded killer who willingly followed orders tantamount to massacre. Carson's almost unimaginable exploits made him a household name when they were written up in pulp novels known as "blood-and-thunders," but now that name is a bitter curse for contemporary Navajo, who cannot forget his role in the travails of their ancestors.

Review:

"With 'Blood and Thunder,' Hampton Sides has taken an implausibly broad canvas of time, people and events and created a brilliantly realized portrait on an epic scale. The United States conquest of the Southwest involved territory ranging from St. Louis to Mexico City and California, as well as a large array of principal figures. Sides has wisely chosen Christopher 'Kit' Carson and Santa Fe as the... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[A]n engaging and exciting book. Sides engages readers with his fast-tempo, almost staccato-like chapters....[T]his great book is the finest telling of Manifest Destiny that has lasting impact on all of us in the American West." The Oregonian

Review:

"Like a Cinemascope western, Blood and Thunder abounds in colorful characters, bristles with incident and ravishes the eye with long, lingering pan shots of the great Southwest." William Grimes, The New York Times

Review:

"Two related but not interdependent epic themes run through this book: the wresting of the Southwest and California away from Mexico to make them a part of the United States and efforts by the Navajo to protect their territory from inroads by Mexico and the United States." Library Journal

Review:

"This work will be an excellent addition to collections on western history." Booklist

Review:

"[Sides'] fascinating work delivers...pulpy pleasures as it recounts America's expansionist war against Mexico in the 19th century. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"The story of the American West has seldom been told with such intimacy and immediacy. Legendary figures like Kit Carson leap to life and history moves at a pulse-pounding pace—sweeping the reader along with it. Hampton Sides is a terrific storyteller." Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt

Review:

"Sides brings life to this history through his excellent use of stories passed down by the Navajos and of original documents, including soldiers' journals, personal letters and battle reports." Seattle Times

Review:

"[E]ngrossing....Sides' keen observations are fresh and fairly impartial, weighing in with the flaws and failures of all sides involved in this pivotal period of America's expansion." San Antonio Express-News

Review:

"Blood and Thunder is a full-blown history, and Sides does every part of it justice....By telling this story, Sides fills a conspicuous void in the history of the American West." N. Scott Momaday, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Sides offers a beautifully written, mesmerizing account of...the quarter-century-long quest to explore the Western lands and build an American empire that would span sea to shining sea." USA Today

Review:

"Sides works material well-known to historians...into an unchallenging but informative narrative." Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

A native of Memphis, Hampton Sides is editor-at-large for Outside magazine and the author of the international bestseller Ghost Soldiers, which was the basis for the 2005 Miramax film The Great Raid. Ghost Soldiers won the 2002 PEN USA Award for nonfiction and the 2002 Discover Award from Barnes & Noble, and his magazine work has been twice nominated for National Magazine Awards for feature writing. Hampton is also the author of Americana and Stomping Grounds. A graduate of Yale with a B.A. in history, he lives in New Mexico with his wife, Anne, and their three sons.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

charles davis, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by charles davis)
Blood and Thunder is the best history book I have read in over a decade. Hampton Sides is a wonderful narrative story teller, he just happens to write history. This is the type book that can make people love reading ,it should be recommended by history teachers everywhere instead of the pedantic nonsense that most phds. scribble and call a book. Great books takes you to places you could never go and places you in a time sequence that makes it so enjoyabe.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
yellowrose, July 7, 2008 (view all comments by yellowrose)
I was assigned this book as a text on a course I took during the summer about the American West. Little did I realize at the time that this was not a typical college text. This multi-storied, many-faceted, fast-paced book instead proved to be one of the most gripping novels I had ever read. An excellent offering of the compexities, nuances, and quirks of fate of history, humans, and heroism.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
PETER TEIMAN CLARK, November 19, 2007 (view all comments by PETER TEIMAN CLARK)
Hi,PETER TEIMAN CLARK here,
A raw look at how the west waqs won.
Thanks,
PETER TEIMAN CLARK
Sweden

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(10 of 20 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 4 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400031108
Subtitle:
The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West
Author:
Sides, Hampton
Publisher:
Anchor
Subject:
United States - 19th Century/Old West
Subject:
United States - State & Local - General
Subject:
Indians of north america
Subject:
Frontier and pioneer life
Subject:
Frontier and pioneer life -- West (U.S.)
Subject:
West (U.S.) History 19th century.
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
US History-19th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20071009
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 PP. BandW/2 MAPS
Pages:
624
Dimensions:
8.09x5.20x1.27 in. 1.38 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » Western States
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century

Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$18.00 In Stock
Product details 624 pages Anchor Books - English 9781400031108 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "In the end, once all the land has been cleared, the Indians and Mexicans tamed, the United States united, there is Carson, a grizzled old man whose only want is to go home to his wife and kids. Whether you bemoan his actions or not, it's a truly American story about a soldier who got the job done." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "[A]n engaging and exciting book. Sides engages readers with his fast-tempo, almost staccato-like chapters....[T]his great book is the finest telling of Manifest Destiny that has lasting impact on all of us in the American West."
"Review" by , "Like a Cinemascope western, Blood and Thunder abounds in colorful characters, bristles with incident and ravishes the eye with long, lingering pan shots of the great Southwest."
"Review" by , "Two related but not interdependent epic themes run through this book: the wresting of the Southwest and California away from Mexico to make them a part of the United States and efforts by the Navajo to protect their territory from inroads by Mexico and the United States."
"Review" by , "This work will be an excellent addition to collections on western history."
"Review" by , "[Sides'] fascinating work delivers...pulpy pleasures as it recounts America's expansionist war against Mexico in the 19th century. (Grade: A-)"
"Review" by , "The story of the American West has seldom been told with such intimacy and immediacy. Legendary figures like Kit Carson leap to life and history moves at a pulse-pounding pace—sweeping the reader along with it. Hampton Sides is a terrific storyteller."
"Review" by , "Sides brings life to this history through his excellent use of stories passed down by the Navajos and of original documents, including soldiers' journals, personal letters and battle reports."
"Review" by , "[E]ngrossing....Sides' keen observations are fresh and fairly impartial, weighing in with the flaws and failures of all sides involved in this pivotal period of America's expansion."
"Review" by , "Blood and Thunder is a full-blown history, and Sides does every part of it justice....By telling this story, Sides fills a conspicuous void in the history of the American West."
"Review" by , "Sides offers a beautifully written, mesmerizing account of...the quarter-century-long quest to explore the Western lands and build an American empire that would span sea to shining sea."
"Review" by , "Sides works material well-known to historians...into an unchallenging but informative narrative."
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