Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides

Blood and Thunder

A Magnificent History of How the West Was Really Won—a Sweeping Tale of Shame and GloryIn 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 ancest...

Details Blood and Thunder

TitleBlood and Thunder
Release DateOct 3rd, 2006
Number of pages460 pages
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, North American Hi..., American History, Biography, Western

Reviews Blood and Thunder

  • Matt
    This is how history should be written. This is the kind of book that spoils you for other books. Hampton Sides’ Blood and Thunder is a sprawling account of the opening of the American southwest. It starts in 1846, with American soldiers arriving in Santa Fe, and ends roughly around the time of the First Battle of Adobe Walls in 1864. The two decades in between are stuffed with drama, horror, and heartbreak. All the stuff that used to fill the d...
  • Cody
    Hampton Sides caught my attention when his latest book, “In the Kingdom of Ice” came out in late 2014. I love a good arctic exploration story and was fully impressed by Sides’ research and storytelling capabilities. Of course, now I had to read the rest of his work and “Blood and Thunder” jumped to the front of my list.Kit Carson serves as the perfect focal point for a sweeping view of the Southwest territories in the middle of the 19th...
  • Michael
    Great narrative history account of Kit Carson's later years in Santa Fe that encompasses the twisted threads of the several tribes residing in the area, the longstanding Mexican settlements, the growing numbers of American settlers, and the U.S. Army operating under the mandates of Polk's Manifest Destiny. Overall Carson is portrayed sympathetically as a complex character marked both by a love of Native Americans (he married one) and by skill in ...
  • Jim
    This is a truly outstanding book...history that reads like fiction; my favourite kind! As the title suggests, the book details the conquest of the American West. Of course conquering the West was virtually synonymous with subjugating the American Indian, which is what this book is really about.Kit Carson does hold the story together, being involved from the first chapter to the last, but it is a Kit Carson I was not expecting to meet. I anticipat...
  • Chrissie
    This review is not a summary of the events discussed in the book itself. Instead read the book to learn of America’s expansion westward to the Pacific in the middle of the 1800sand of fascinating details about Native American customs and beliefs!The further you get into the story the better and better it gets.Here is what I liked:- The atrocities committed by both sides, those by the Indians and those by the conquering Americans, are presented ...
  • Steve
    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. Primarily, Sides focuses on Carson’s role with the whole Manifest Destiny movement, which was initiated by President Polk in the 1840s. Still, this is an enormous ...
  • Lawyer
    Hampton Sides is a wonderful writer of history. "Blood and Thunder" details the continuing conflict between the Navajo tribes and the successive occupants of New Mexico from its original occupation by the Spanish, through the Mexican government and finally the United States.In addition to covering this lengthy cultural conflict, Sides weaves the biography of Kit Carson and his significant involvement in the New Mexico Territory. The title of Side...
  • Wayne Barrett
    4.5If you liked Cormack McCarthy's 'Blood Meridian' you'll love this non-fiction account of America's expansion into the west. Having been born and raised in California, I recognized many of the names mentioned in this tale because they are the names of cities, counties, etc. Stockton, Kern, Freemont, and of course, Carson City. And now I know the history of the names attached to these places I grew up with. Agree or disagree, Manifest Destiny is...
  • Patrick Gibson
    When the Pulitzer for fiction was handed out in 2006, I was adamant it had been given for the wrong book (“March”). “Blood and Thunder” should have had the honor hands down. I was actually angry over this. The clarity of thought and expression in this chronicle goes way beyond your ordinary history of the West. Not just a biography of Kit Carson, though he is used as the fulcrum which balances western expansionism with Native Americans (p...
  • Emily
    I loved this book. It's one of the most engaging, creatively told works of nonfiction I've ever read. Hampton Sides tells a cohesive and propulsive story that takes you from the opening of the American west in the 1820s through the Long Walk of the Navajo after the Civil War. The focus is somewhat on Kit Carson, whose (frankly incredible) life somehow spans most of the interesting events happening west of the Mississippi from 1820 on, from the Fr...
  • Max
    Sides depicts an icon of the western frontier, the exploitation of the land and subjugation of Native Americans. Kit Carson’s life follows the frontier’s fortunes, from his early days as a fur trapper to his role leading three Fremont expeditions to his exploits in the Mexican War and his chronicled battles with the Indians. Throughout, Carson’s skills, integrity, loyalty and unerring sixth sense were so prodigious that he seems the stuff o...
  • Carl R.
    My ignorance sometimes appalls me. The first time I visited Santa Fe --in my 40’s, old enough and educated enough to know better--I was astounded to see that the city had been founded ten years before Plymouth Rock felt the tread of a Pilgrim’s foot. I knew the Spanish had been nosing around Mexico and the Southwest since the 16th Century, but had no notion they’d done anything permanent. Well, they had. And in 1826 young and orphaned Chris...
  • Danielle
    I actually checked this out from the library for my husband, thinking it would be the kind of (lame) thing he would like. But, I ended up reading it myself and totally loved it. It covers an era and location in history that just doesn't get much play, and I was very impressed with the author's ability to cover a big subject in a way that was cohesive, interesting, and kept moving. Good non-fiction is an art, people.Anyway, from the title, I thoug...
  • Josh
    Kit Carson.........some kind of interesting, odd, and uncommon fellow. Hampton Sides is quickly becoming one of my favorite non-fiction writers; choosing to enlighten me on a range of diverse and interesting topics. Had he not written this one, I would have likely missed a whole lot of factoids about a part of the country I really love told through the story of a wee little mountain man turned fighter turned legend turned diplomatic figurehead fr...
  • Shawn
    This is the first book that I have read by Hampton Sides. While I do not think that I am an expert in the history of New Mexico and the Navajo, I do feel that I have an adequate background to make some observations. Sides' view of Kit Carson I found interesting. It seems as if he went to some length to modernize Carson's opinions of the Native Americans. Kit Carson was always a proponent of Manifest Destiny. In my past reading of Kit Carson I see...
  • Fred Forbes
    Remember the old Tonight Show when Ed or Johnny would drop a factoid and the other would reply "I.did.not.know. that!"? Found myself doing that a lot as I read this even though I thought I knew a good bit about this historical period. Details related to the Mexican War, Western settlement, Civil War, Indian Wars, and the Fremont expeditions I thought I had down but was continually impressed as the story emerged. Kit Carson I was only slightly fam...
  • Steven Peterson
    This is an excellent biography of a famous American pioneer--Kit Carson. What sets it apart is its humane treatment of a complex figure. Carson appears to have been the "real deal," not a manufactured hero. The book proceeds by interweaving several story lines, which can be somewhat confusing at times but, in the end, this serves the author well. Among the story lines--Kit Carson's exploits, the Navajo leader Narbona's story, General Stephen Kear...
  • Justin
    A fantastic account of the life and times of Kit Carson, Narbona, General Kearny, John Fremont, et al. This books interweaves their stories through the early American republic, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and beyond. It's very much in the vein of Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, this one involving the Navajo, the New Mexicans, and the ...
  • Brian
    I picked this book for no reason other than I loved the last book I read by Hampton Sides. His book, Ghost Soldiers, was so well-written and thoroughly researched that he became an instant favorite of mine as an author.This book was no different. Scholarly, but not dry; dramatic, but objectively so; focused, but set on a broad landscape of the American west, while covering a range of years from the early 19th century through just after the civi...
  • Jeffrey
    O.K. So I finally got off my duff. It's not that I haven't been reading, this is just the first book I finished since I signed up for this web site.Hampton Sides is managing editor of Outside magazine. He does a very creditable job acting as a historical researcher documenting the life of Kit Carson, hero of the West, and still writing an exciting action filled book that reads like a novel at times. Who'd have guessed that Kit Carson was a legend...
  • EggSalad
    An engrossing read. The author does an excellent job of illustrating a very complex part of history. Some of the prose is downright beautiful. The book also seems like a fair take on events -- it's not heavy-handed, but not an apology either. Really, really excellent. I highly recommend it.
  • Jim
    A really engrossing book. This is basically the story of the effects of “manifest destiny,” the notion that America had a God-given right to expand it’s reach throughout the continent. Impelled by a form of American exceptionalism that emphasized a cultural ideal of agrarian simplicity, its associated value system, and the governing institutions that maintained it, manifest destiny became the driving force behind territorial expansion in th...
  • Ryanofthenorth
    Objective and refreshingly free of the maudlin sentimentality that has infected so many recent historical works involving contact between Western civilization and Native Americans.Fantastic prose that keeps you engaged in the story without dabbling in hyperbole or sacrificing historical accuracy. Sides somehow makes you feel connected to, and empathize with all sides of the story. Indian, white man, and Mexican are all portrayed, not as villains,...
  • Trisha
    I know there are good American history teachers in the world (like my brother-in-law for example) but somehow I never had one. So reading this book has made up for what I missed by not learning about the western expansion through the southwest that resulted in such shameful treatment of Native Americans. Fueled by President Polk’s theory of Manifest Destiny, the Indian Wars turned into a self-perpetuating sequence of atrocities as each engageme...
  • David Eppenstein
    My knowledge of the history of our Western expansion and, in particular, our dealings with Native Americans is very limited. In the last year I've taken steps to correct that deficiency by reading a few excellent histories in that subject area. This book does a great deal to help with my ignorance. It is an excellent treatment that is both engaging, well written, and thought provoking. Its focus is primarily on Northern New Mexico and the Four Co...
  • Jeffery Moulton
    I knew absolutely zero about Kit Carson besides his name prior to reading this book. And, even though I grew up close to the Navajo reservation, I sadly knew very little about them and their history as well. This book changed all that.This book was fascinating. It covers a lot of ground, history-wise, dealing with the conquering of New Mexico, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War battles of the Southwest, the Navajo War, and the forced relocat...
  • Adele
    Blood and Thunder could be a really dry history book that I tried in vain to read because I really thought I ought to, a la 1776. Except for that it wasn't dull. I'm biased because I'm obsessed with New Mexico and I never had New Mexico History in school, but I found Sides' account of Kit Carson's life, the plight of Native Americans in the West and conquest in general just short of riveting. Blood and Thunder wasn't a page turner per se, but sti...
  • John
    I wanted to brush up on my Southwestern history before my trip (or rather, learn some Southwestern history, of which I knew very little). This provided a great overview of the first twenty years of US control over the New Mexico territory, from the Mexican War through the expulsion and later return of the Navajo. Part of it is just my recent fascination with all things Native American, but I find all this stuff really interesting, and I continual...
  • Jim Angstadt
    This book is appealingly simple and deceptively complex.Each section describes a situation/person with compelling details. We think we understand what is going on.We like the person. We understand the situation.Then another section tells it's tale, maybe without an obvious connection to previous sections.Where is this going?The broader theme is:- western expansion- manifest destiny- mexican-american war- a coast-to-coast mentality- imposition of ...
  • Daniel Chaikin
    I listened an audio. Early on I was wondering where this was going and what the subtitle, "An Epic of the American West" meant, and why the book was spending so much time with Kit Carson and so little time with all the other stuff going on in the "American west" at that time...well, see, the book is about Kit Carson, and also Navajos - well their history during, basically, the life of Kit Carson; and while there is some important interaction betw...