Page 3 of 4 Book Reviews 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…as the title suggests, [it] resounds with war whoops, rifle fire and hoofbeats. Many scalps are taken, by both sides, and Carson dies on cue, with a jaunty farewell on his lips. In other words, the story always moves.
This is the kind of book that spoils you for other books. It starts inwith American soldiers arriving in Santa Fe, and ends roughly around the time of the First Battle of Adobe Walls in The two decades in between are stuffed with drama, horror, and heartbreak. You have the underrated political genius of James Knox Polk and his ambitious continental designs.
There are battles and massacres, explorations and discoveries, triumphs and tragedies. This is a sometimes-wildly digressing story, hopping manically from one place to the next, like my kids on Christmas morning.
And on Halloween, Easter, their birthdays. Pretty much any day involving candy. Despite the overstuffed nature, Sides keeps things manageable by utilizing two backbones to carry the narrative. In some ways, this is a very old fashioned book.
There are enough battles from San Pasqual to Canyon de Chelly to satisfy someone looking for a military history. There are perceptive biographical sketches of the aforementioned Kearny and Polk who Sides argues might be the most efficient and effective US Presidentas well as explorer John C.
Over them all towers the diminutive Carson, who Sides rightly finds the perfect embodiment of all the grim contradictions found in many of the men who helped open the West.
Carson was kind and humane, except when he unleashed his terrible, lethal rage. He was on the forefront of a racial conflict, yet loved and married both an Arapaho woman named Singing Grass, and a Hispanic woman named Josefa.
He was illiterate, yet spoke more than half a dozen different languages. Yet this is also a very modern book.
Sides writes in an incredibly inclusive style that seeks a diversity of viewpoints. There are a lot of white males, as might be expected see the preceding paragraphbut there is also significant space devoted to Navajo leaders such as Narbona and Manuelito.
You are given the opportunity to see things from their perspective, as they are forced to leave their ancestral homes for a reservation they're meant to share with long-time enemies.
There is not a perfect split, of course; I doubt that's possible with extant sources. The fact that Sides makes an honest effort, indeed goes out of his way to find other voices, goes a long way with me. More than that, Sides is interested in the cultural context.
He is clearly riveted by the intricate customs and practices of the Navajo, and spends a good deal of time exploring and explaining their worldview. This has the double effect of giving you a better understanding of the Navajo people, while providing an idea of how Narbona was probably laid to rest.
The best part of all — yes it keeps getting better! He is a naturally gifted storyteller with a deep sympathy for his historical subjects. This is a vanishingly rare book that connects you with the past in a tactile way. I dare you not to be moved by the final agonies of Kit Carson, dying from an aortic aneurysm a month after his beloved wife.
His last words fitting for a man who straddled cultures: He has an unerring eye for details both profound and small, whether dealing with Navajo death taboos or James K. Sides seamlessly combines effortless prose, competent research, and astute judgments.
It melds the old way of historical writing with the new, to create a marvelous hybrid. This book represents an ideal for me. A work that is both exciting and introspective, that is both sharply incisive and generously big-hearted.If you don’t know much about Kit Carson, or his life and times, Hampton Sides’ Blood and Thunder is probably a fine place to start.
Carson was one of those rare historical figures whose life would intersect, numerous times, with important moments, and people, in American history.
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.
Book Reviews 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 as the title suggests, [it] resounds with war whoops, rifle fire and lausannecongress2018.com scalps are taken, by both sides, and Carson dies on cue, with a jaunty farewell on his lips.
The second part of Blood and Thunder that caught my attention was the conflict between the American mentality and the mentality of the Native Americans who already lived in the area.
As is noted throughout the book, the Native Americans could not understand the point behind many of the “white” traditions that men like Carleton tried to. The Bible instructs us that a dog will inevitably return to his vomit, and a sow will eventually resume wallowing in the mire. In similar fashion, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association cannot free himself from the habit of making incomprehensibly foolish and brazenly bigoted statements in defense of the quasi-genocidal dispossession of the American Indians.
Blood and Thunder – the Story of Kit Carson This excellent book of western history replete with details about Native American tribes and the collision of two cultures, by Hamton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers, is a whopping pages, chock full of historical facts swirling mostly around the life of the legendary scout, Kit Carson.