I purchased this audio version of "Blood and Thunder" on the basis of some very favorable reviews that the book received in the press. Alas, Hampton Sides' survey of the history of the American Southwest during the middle decades of the 19th century does not live up to the hype. He is at his best describing the landscape of the region, but his narration of events and the personalities that drove them lacks historical rigor. After a while, one becomes a bit tired of statements about what a person "must have" thought, "probably" felt, or other such conjectures. Sides is not content to let events speak for themselves. He has to ramble on about the unknowable. This is fine for a novelist, and may be appropriate for a historian if diaries and other first-hand accounts give sufficient sense of what cannot be observed. But Sides uses it to excess. Instead of adding to the story, it merely inflates a remarkably sparse book. It is indicative of Sides' unwillingness to explore what can be documented--the culture of white America suring the period in question, the politics and tactics of the US army, background on whites' earlier interaction with native Americans, the influence of Catholicism on the Southwestern tribes, and so on. He barely touches on these crucial questions. It's sad, because Sides is an excellent stylist, but in this case he lacks substance to back it up.
The reader (Don Leslie) is adequate, though certainly not among the best I have heard. He has a deep voice, and occasionally he seems to lumber through the story. Still, he does the material justice.
Fear is the mind Killer, so Face Your Fear
THE KIT CARSON
I cannot think of one. I had no idea how influential Kit Carson was on American history
The knowledge was great, but the story sometimes dry. Don really kept me entertained.
I was stunned how little I knew about how the west was won.
At its core, this is the history of Manifest Destiny in action. First, this is an outstanding book, and covers an arc of history of the American west spanning from the first decades of the 1800's to the end of the Civil War. The narration mainly follows the extraordinary life of Kit Carson, who managed to be at the center of an astonishing number of historical events in the west. The first act covers the early days of the west before modern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California were incorporated into the Union and the Santa Fe trail represented the limits of the frontier. It then follows the wars and annexation that consolidated the US's presence in the west, the establishment of the Oregon Trail and immigration that followed. The third act of the book focuses on the Navajo and the tragic attempt to settle them at Bosque Redondo, and this final part of the book is moving and tragic, but ends on a hopeful note. The narration is excellent, and although like many history books, it can feel a little slow at parts in the beginning, the pay off is definitely worth it.
Interesting, detailed and fascinating. I am in fond of history, but not familiar with the American one (I’m Italian, I live in Rome): finally I start to understand what all those movies I’ve seen since childhood were about.
The narrator, Don Leslie, is so good. He made me breathe the now gone atmosphere of those times. The grass, the dust, the misery, the simplicity and toughness of their wild livings. The brightness of a new future waiting ahead. This is perhaps the first book I’m so glad not to have red, but listened to.
Hampton Side Does it Again Hampton Side has taken on the Western Expansion and the life of Kit Carson. In broad strokes and using wonderfully exciting prose, his Kit Carson and the virtual ruin of the Navajo nation come to life. The reading of James Naughton, the writing of Sides, and the story make this a worth while listen. Some will not agree with Side's point of view, but no one can complain that he hasn't done everyone a favor by bringing this bygone era to the modern reader's attention.
The story and narration are good. I think that he did a good job of providing a balanced account. It was however, a bit long.
About 80% of this book was good to very good but there were intermittent periods where it dragged. You just have to keep going and then you will be back into the excitement and interest again. Overall this is a 3.7 to a 4.0. I'm glad I purchased it.
This is a masterful retelling of how flawed characters conquered the southwest. Great narration, too. A must for anyone interested in the Navajos, New Mexico or Kit Carson.