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
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, North American Hi..., American History, Biography, Westerns, Favorites

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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • Lorna
    Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson & the Conquest of the American West by Hampton Sides was a powerfully written and meticulously researched tale of the American West primarily from the early nineteenth century through the Civil War when President Polk's vision of Manifest Destiny was the ideological vision of the United States of America sweeping from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Having grown up in Colorado, New Mexico and Californi...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Steve
    All I can say is that I'm glad that this wasn't the first Hampton Sides book I read. That's not meant to be particularly negative, but, while I did enjoy this book, and I'm glad I read it, I've really enjoyed some of his other stuff - some newer, but at least one older. I think of Sides as one of my most reliable favorites, and his Ghost Soldiers is one of my all-time favorite pieces of military history, so maybe I just set the bar too high. I du...
  • 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...
  • John
    This is an outstanding book. I recommend it for anyone who is at all interested in the American West.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Sweetwilliam
    I loved it. This book meanders much like my favorite book of all time the Son of The Morning Star. If you are curious to understand how the American SouthWest was founded this is a must read. The detail about the Navaho was very interesting and sad. The fact that Indian and Mexican were like Arab and Jew was an eye opener for me.
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • Kurt
    Only very few books I have read would qualify as being so good that I couldn't wait to finish yet at the same time caused me to dread coming to the end of such an exhilirating experience. Blood and Thunder is definitely in that elite class.The history of the southwestern United States from approximately 1800 to 1870 is the underlying theme of this book. Embedded within, however, is the complete biography of the fascinating Kit Carson and a comple...
  • 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...
  • Dave
    An excellent book of southwestern America history - about 1820 to 1870. Author Hampton Sides weaves the narrative around the life of Christopher ('Kit') Carson and the Navaho Indian tribe. The book jacket provides a very nice and concise description of "Blood & Thunder", so I will not repeat it here.This is the second nonfiction history book by Hampton Sides I've read ("In the Kingdom of Ice" being the other). He writes superbly, I can't recommen...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Joe
    I am not an Old West aficionado but I do like a great history book and Blood and Thunder is all that - at times reading like a novel, i.e. engaging. The book chronicles the American Southwest from the 1820’s through the Civil War. Kit Carson is the central character – who seemingly knew everyone and how to get anywhere during that time - he disappears and reappears as the story is told. The author also chronicles the Mexican War, the tales of...
  • Jennifer
    Lots of info, but never came to life. And whoever previously owned the copy I read completely covered it with moronic notes. That didn't help. Example...they circled the word "sutler", and wrote "not a real word!". Get a damn dictionary.
  • 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.
  • Josh Liller
    Taking its name from a genre of dime novel westerns, Blood and Thunder is a sweeping tale of the American Southwest from 1846 to 1868, centering around the life of Kit Carson and the struggle of the Navajo Indians, from Stephen Kearney's conquest of New Mexico to the Long Walk and the disastrous Bosque Redondo reservation.Sides is particularly adept at two things: dramatic writing and very even-handed treatment of everyone involved. This is a pre...