Customer Reviews for

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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Amazing, jaw dropping, and heart-rending!!!

I am not a history lover but I could not put this book down! Hampton Sides is so thorough in organizing all the insighful facts of this story yet keeps it so very human and interesting. It would floor me over and over again leaving me reading passages of it out loud to ...
I am not a history lover but I could not put this book down! Hampton Sides is so thorough in organizing all the insighful facts of this story yet keeps it so very human and interesting. It would floor me over and over again leaving me reading passages of it out loud to my family. I had thought of Kit Carson as a sort of made-up cowboy figure. His story, and those that surrounded him, needs and deserves this masterful retelling. It left me thankful for my own life yet in awe of the wildness and hardship that much of the United States was formed within. Sides does a great job of giving equal time and admiration for both the Indians and the early settlers. I love how messy and complicated it all is. A must read!

posted by glorygirlVC on October 1, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Deja Vu

Hampton Sides goes out of his way to praise Thomas Dunlay in his acknowledgements as well he should. The book is almost a twin of Dunlay's "Kit Carson and the Indians", published by the University of Nebaraska Press in 2000. Page after page and source after source ape...
Hampton Sides goes out of his way to praise Thomas Dunlay in his acknowledgements as well he should. The book is almost a twin of Dunlay's "Kit Carson and the Indians", published by the University of Nebaraska Press in 2000. Page after page and source after source apes Dunlay's work. In fact, Sides' last page in his book is almost the same as Dunlay's (sans Chapter on Conclusion) and it seems to me that he may have even got the title of his book from reading Chapter 1, page 13 of Dunlay's book. There is no new information presented here save for a few hearsay details given by Navajo informants. I was very disappointed to have wasted my reading time on something that I already read back in 2000.

posted by DavidS-Albuquerque on July 27, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2011

    Amazing, jaw dropping, and heart-rending!!!

    I am not a history lover but I could not put this book down! Hampton Sides is so thorough in organizing all the insighful facts of this story yet keeps it so very human and interesting. It would floor me over and over again leaving me reading passages of it out loud to my family. I had thought of Kit Carson as a sort of made-up cowboy figure. His story, and those that surrounded him, needs and deserves this masterful retelling. It left me thankful for my own life yet in awe of the wildness and hardship that much of the United States was formed within. Sides does a great job of giving equal time and admiration for both the Indians and the early settlers. I love how messy and complicated it all is. A must read!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Kit Carson - Forest Gump on a Mule

    Kit Carson seemed to be everyplace. Everytime there was a desparate situation, Kit Carson showed up just in the nick of time and did an extraordinary deed to save the day. And the charming part of the story is that Kit Carson himself thought he was just "doing his job".

    Great insight into the Indian tribes, the Mexican history of New Mexico. The amazing story is Carson riding a mule from California to Washington to deliver documents to the President and then riding back.... three times!!

    A heroic story told very well.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2010

    The complex history of the American West comes alive...

    This book reads like a good novel. It is well researched and documented. The author is intellegent: I thoroughly enjoyed his vocabulary and command of the English language. His view was well-balanced glorifying neither the white settlers, the hispanic settlers, nor the natives. Excellent. I will seek more books by Hampton Sides.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Highly recommended - very balanced!

    Hampton Sides's Blood and Thunder is the most comprehensive and balanced account of Native America (particularly Navajo) - U.S. Army interaction that I know of. I reread it and give it as gifts.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2013

    highly recommended

    This book was recommended by several of the Doctors that I work with and their wives. Also several couples at church recommended it. My Husband is reading it 1st as he received it for Christmas from me and I will read it next. He is enjoying all the history of the area we live in that is in the book. It is amazing how far these people traveled in an age when travel was not simple. Great History novel!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2015

    Outstanding piece of historical work. Sides has entered the comp

    Outstanding piece of historical work. Sides has entered the company of Ambrose and McCollough.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2014

    Alpha Den

    Suspect and Blades den.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    very informative

    This book was great not just because of the amazing story of Kit Carson but also on westward expansion. A must read for any history buff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    I learned a few things....

    Very informative, very engaging and a very entertaining and easy read.

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  • Posted March 4, 2012

    Loved it.

    Hampton Sides can really tell a story that keeps you reading. Lots of action and drama. Kit Carson was a remarkable person!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2011

    Fantastic book!

    I doesn't read like a history book but provides the information on one.

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  • Posted October 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Real Kit Carson

    Hampton Sides does an excellent job of presenting the man and his times. His style is quite engaging and mirrors his portrayal of Carson as a competent character yet very humble and focused on purpose. Sides balances the greater history of the US's manifest destiny and development during this historical period with Carson's involvement in this process and his own life and person. There is much to reflect upon in terms of US history, US relationship with both Mexicans and Native Americans, and US development as a nation: Sides gives one pause.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2008

    Kit Carson -- Fremont's Pathfinder

    When the history of the west was written Kit Carson fur trapper, scout and explorer was there and was a part of it. Carson was born in Kentucky the day before Christmas in 1809, the same year and state of Lincoln¿s birth. He was only eight years old when his father died and out of necessity the boy picked up his rifle and hunted game. When he was thirteen his mother married and Kit rebelled. To mollify the situation he was apprenticed to a saddle maker and worked at the trade for two years before he signed on with a freight caravan at St Louis and headed west. In less than twenty years Kit Carson had proved his metal as scout, fur trapper and guide. John C. Fremont hired Carson as his guide for his first expedition that would be heading out of St. Louis to North Pass. The group left in June of 1842. The expedition successfully explored the country lying between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains on a line of the Kansas and Great Platte Rivers. Carson was also along for Fremont¿s second expedition when they explored the Oregon Trail from South Pass to the Columbia River. Most Americans thought of Fremont as the Pathfinder, but in my opinion they were wrong. I Believe Kit Carson was the real Pathfinder. The year was 1846 when Hampton Sides brought another important personality into that western struggle -- General Stephen Watts Kearny. Kearny moved his army west along the Santa Fe Trail with orders to capture and occupy the New Mexico Capital at Santa Fe. Kearny stopped off, almost as an after thought, and secured the town of Las Vegas for the American forces. Kearny made a short speech to the citizens of Las Vegas. He said, ¿From the Mexican Government you have never received protection. The Navajos come down from the mountains and carry off your sheep and your women whenever they please.¿ From the crowd reaction Kearny knew he¿d struck a nerve and went on to tell the people that from that day forward their lives and property would be protected. ¿Your enemies will become our enemies.¿ Kearny then led his army toward Santa Fe with only a halt at Apache Canyon where he held his army in check and waited out the New Mexico militia that had gathered and planned an ambush. Following a long wait the militia abandoned their position Kearny continued to Santa Fe and occupied the town without a shot being fired. General Kearny rode into the central plaza, dismounted, raised his hand and said, ¿I, Stephen W. Kearny, General of the Army of the United States have taken possession of the providence of New Mexico.¿ From the time Kearny and Kit Carson¿s first met they formed a good relationship and Carson took up the same duties for Kearny as he had performed on John C. Fremont¿s expeditions. Carson guided Kearny and his army through to California. However, at that point General Kearny and his army were worn out, the horses, mules and men all needed water and rest. But they got neither, what they got was an ambush and a fire fight at San Pasqual, which was about thirty miles from San Diego and their rendezvous point with Commodore Robert Stockton. Kearny was pinned down by the Mexicans and sent Carson and two others to try to get through to Stockton and ask for help. As it turned all three men managed to get through the enemy lines to San Diego. Commodore Stockton complied with the request and immediately sent a force to assist Kearny. Stockton¿s 100-man force broke the impasse at San Pasqual, and the opposition was broken. That defeat at San Pasqual essentially ended the fight for the West. And while it didn¿t end all the hostilities with Mexico it was a great beginning. Kit Carson was trusted by the military and as a consequence he was given the task of delivering important dispatches to Washington. Carson traversed the country several times during his lifetime and probably understood the American landscape better than any man alive at the time. Among his obvious skills as hunter, trapper and guide Kit Carson was al

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2006

    History Nearly Lost

    This great book covers some pivotal points in US history that I was only vaguely aware of. I had heard of Kit Carson, but really didn't know all he had done. Likewise, I had heard of the war against the Navajo, but knew few details. This book does a great job filling in those details and much more. Mr. Sides proves that writing history for the general reader is an art, one he excels at. I couldn't put the book down. It was far more thrilling than many novels I've read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2006

    A Grand Book

    Hampton Sides has given us a multi-faceted examination of the men and forces involved in the conquest of the American West and the way of life of its original settlers. At the center is Christopher ¿Kit¿ Carson, who was a pivotal figure in the events and whose life has been so distorted by legend most today have little inkling of just how complex an individual and how heroic¿in the true sense of the word¿the man really was. There are also telling portraits of others: President James Polk, engineer of Manifest Destiny, who believed it was his nation¿s biblical right to seize real estate all the way to the Pacific, no matter who else might claim the land Stephen Watts Kearny, father of the U.S. Cavalry and one of the most underrated officers produced by this country, who Polk used to spearhead his land lust the equally ambitious John C. Fremont and his father-in-law, Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, the apostle of Manifest Destiny the energetic and interesting Brig. Gen. James H. Carleton, whose well-meaning dream of a refuge for the Navajo led them to Bosque Redondo and near extinction the great Navajo leaders Narbona, Manuelito and Barboncito, and many others. Diminutive in stature, Carson was¿as Sides describes him early on: ¿¿a lovable man¿loyal, honest, and kind. In many pinpointable incidents, he acted bravely and with much physical grace. More than once, he saved people¿s lives without seeking recognition or pay. He was a dashing good Samaritan¿a hero, even.¿ In the very next paragraph, Sides says, ¿He was also a natural born killer.¿ Carson was all of that. A humble man, a brave man, loyal to his friends, a demon to his enemies. He was a man of his times, yet stood head and shoulders above many of his contemporaries. Married to a Mexican, he shared the viewpoint of his Hispanic relatives and neighbors when it came to the Navajo and was Carleton¿s spear in driving the Dine from their homeland and on the Long Walk. Yet he loved the Ute and helped save them from the forces destroying other tribes. Sides does not romanticize. He is a storyteller, and his words keep one turning the pages no dry history this. He reveals the good and the bad about all the people in this book. It is a grand book. One that should be required reading in high schools and colleges to inform future generations of how we came to our present place in history.

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted June 30, 2011

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    Posted April 29, 2011

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    Posted January 4, 2014

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