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Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West | [Hampton Sides]

Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West

In 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 ancestral enemies.
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Publisher's Summary

In 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 ancestral enemies. As Narbona gazed down on the battlements and cannons of a mighty fort the invaders had built, he realized his foes had been vanquished. But what did the arrival of these "new men" portend for the Navajo?

Narbona could not have known that "The Army of the West", in the midst of the longest march in American military history, was merely the vanguard of an inexorable tide fueled by a self-righteous ideology now known as "Manifest Destiny". For 20 years the Navajo, elusive lords of a huge swath of mountainous desert and pasturelands, would ferociously resist the flood of soldiers and settlers who wished to change their ancient way of life - or destroy them.

©2006 Hampton Sides; (P)2006 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"An excellent addition to collections on western history." (Booklist)
"[Sides] eloquently paints the landscape and history of the 19th-century Southwest." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (430 )
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4.4 (185 )
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4.4 (182 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sukie Moore 03-12-15
    Sukie Moore 03-12-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    33
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A flawed hero, Kit Carson's incredible story"

    Beautifully written, engaging, and even handed - this book dives deep into a time that we think we know all about, but don't. Alas, this painful part of our history is so much more complex than many know. The friendships and hostilities between European colonial settlers, Americans, and the many Native American tribes they met along the way are beautifully rendered in this book. Tragic, heroic, flawed, funny, wrong-headed, naive, selfish, loyal and courageous - all words that describe the cast of characters in this true story. We honor them by learning more about them. I couldn't put this boom down.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kirk gittings ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, US 03-10-15
    kirk gittings ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, US 03-10-15 Member Since 2010
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    14
    4
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    Story
    "Great read"

    A modern perspective on a pivotal time in the history of the SW. Very well done! Ok four more words.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-03-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
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    Story
    "True grit in the West"

    Well written book, expertly narrated. It covers an interesting portion of frontier and western American history in the 19th century.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan 09-07-13
    Amazon Customer Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan 09-07-13 Member Since 2015

    Fear is the mind Killer, so Face Your Fear

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Wow! A great history listen"
    If you could sum up Blood and Thunder in three words, what would they be?

    THE KIT CARSON


    What other book might you compare Blood and Thunder to and why?

    I cannot think of one. I had no idea how influential Kit Carson was on American history


    What about Don Leslie’s performance did you like?

    The knowledge was great, but the story sometimes dry. Don really kept me entertained.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was stunned how little I knew about how the west was won.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Toronto, ON, Canada 02-07-11
    Eric Toronto, ON, Canada 02-07-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Publisher's summary does not do it justice"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mario La Femina Rome, Italy 09-01-10
    Mario La Femina Rome, Italy 09-01-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What a book!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 05-01-10
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 05-01-10 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Blood and Thunder"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 11-11-09
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 11-11-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    74
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    70
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    4
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    Overall
    "Good story--a bit long"

    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.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonnie Panama City, FL, United States 05-21-07
    Jonnie Panama City, FL, United States 05-21-07 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Good western history book"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Waltham, MA, USA 04-17-07
    Andrew Waltham, MA, USA 04-17-07 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    Overall
    "Disappointing"

    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.

    5 of 10 people found this review helpful
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