Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West, by Hampton Sides & Don Leslie(Narrator)
What a perfect book to accompany a road trip around the southwestern United States! Hampton Sides traces the suppression of the Navaho nation during the 19th century in this comprehensive and compelling tale of the heroes and villains of the American West. If there could be a main character in this saga, it would be Christopher (Kit) Carson, a larger than life figure who epitomized the courage and valor of the westward explorer. As a popular character in the "blood and thunders," the trashy, pulp Westerns of the time, he became an American icon. He was, in fact, an illiterate, 5-foot 4-inch trapper and scout who rode across the plains on the back of a mule. His life was full of contradictions-although illiterate, he spoke five Indian languages. He loved and married two Native American women, but he was instrumental in the annihilation or removal from their lands of thousands of Indians during the settlement of the West. At times he demonstrated great understanding, compassion and respect for the Navajo and their leaders, but his cruel, violent treatment of the Navajo people has made his name a curse in their culture.
Hampton Sides has given readers and listeners a priceless gift by weaving carefully researched facts about our country's history with beautiful descriptions of its landscape into a fascinating tale that is more like fiction than nonfiction. He presents the events and the historical figures who participated in them in a straightforward, factual manner, but he embroiders the tapestry with insight about the motives of the featured characters and the effects of their actions on the resulting outcomes.
This is a book that can be studied and listened
to by diverse audiences for various reasons. The historian
might find the mule-riding of Carson and the early Roman,
Sulla, only one of the similarities between these respected
but often cruel leaders. The traveler will surely want to
explore Canyon de Chelly and see why Carson is so bitterly
hated by the Navajo. The casual listener will be riveted by
the informative and fascinating descriptions of the exploration
and settlement of the American West. Highly recommended!