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Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West Paperback – October 9, 2007
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“Riveting . . . monumental . .. . Not only does Blood and Thunder capture a pivotal moment in U.S. history in marvelous detail, it is also authoritative and masterfully told.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Stunning. . . Both haunting and lyrical, Blood and Thunder is truly a masterpiece.”
—Los Angeles Times
“We see a panorama and a whole history, intricately laced with wonder and meaning, coalesce into a story of epic proportions, a story full of authority and color, truth and prophecy . . . Sides fills a conspicuous void in the history of the American West.”
—N. Scott Momaday, The New York Times Book Review
“From the lean crisp descriptions of the characters to the sights, sounds and smells of the trail, this is a crystal clear picture of the West.” —San Antonio Express News
About the Author
A native of Memphis, Hampton Sides is editor-atlarge for Outside magazine and the author of the international best-seller, Ghost Soldiers (Doubleday), which was the basis for the 2005 Miramax film, The Great Raid. Ghost Soldiers won the 2002 PEN USA award for non-fiction 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 (Anchor) and Stomping Grounds (William Morrow). A graduate of Yale with a B.A. in history, he lives in New Mexico with his wife, Anne, and their three sons.
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The book includes many mini-biographies of people who intersected Carson's life, which is a lot of people, and he often spends dozens of pages on events far from Carson. Sides keeps the story moving briskly, and he is a colorful writer. He belongs to that school of historian who feels comfortable making judgements about personalities, and whose syntheses of the literature and of biographies may push at the edges of what the sources would strictly support. As someone sympathetic to that approach, I am happy to cut him some slack when speculating about characters' alcoholism, psychology, or presumed motivations.
Sides does his best to be fair to everyone, whether Navajo, Mexican, or American. He leans to the biographer's fault of treating his subject too favorably, but that's easy to forgive. That becomes a difficult line to travel as he turns to his second major subject, the Navajo nation. Carson played a central role in the conquest of the Navajo and in their disastrous removal to a reservation at Bosque Redondo. Sympathetic to both Carson and the Navajo, Sides nonetheless pulls back from criticizing his hero as fully as some historians might.
Still, this is a thoroughly enjoyable, wide-ranging history of the West, appealing to a wide audience.
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