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
"An excellent addition to collections on western history." (Booklist)
"[Sides] eloquently paints the landscape and history of the 19th-century Southwest." (Publishers Weekly)
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.
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.
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.
LOVE KEN FOLLET BOOKS..HATE SCIENCE FICTION..ENJOY LISTENING WHILE I DRIVE LONG OR SHORT DISTANCES..THANKS AUDIBLE!!
It was almost like hearing about the Jewish Holocaust for the first time. Could OUR U.S. Government do this to a race of people?. Yes, they could and they DID !
There were too many faucets of good, bad and evil to compare this book to others. At first I loved KIt Carson , then I learned all he did and hated him!
Very well narrated...
Americas's Holocaust...the true story
Hampton Sides really did his homework on this piece of American history. The success is in the details!!
Husband for 40 years, retired CHP sergeant, photographer, father of 2, grandfather of 3. Love audiobooks. My interests are dominated, but not exclusively historical.
When I purchased this book I was under the impression that it was a basic history of the Navajo people. While listening to the first chapter I was concerned about the reader's voice as it seemed to be somewhat monotone. But I did not put the book down. I am extremely pleased with myself that I didn't. To me this was an epic story not solely about the history of the Navajo, but the many other Native American peoples of the southwest. Tightly weaved into the story was the life history of Kit Carson with John C Fremont, James Polk, Zachary Taylor, Braxton Bragg, Generals Grant and Sherman and many others in their roles. The Civil War as fought in New Mexico, the Sand Creek Massacre and the slaughter of pioneer families by the Mormons of Utah. The beauty of the Southwest or to some its ugliness when compared to the green, fetal lands to the east. I ramble on, but this is a must listen for anyone interested in the history of the American Southwest. As the reader progressed the reader's voice seemed to be exactly what was needed to tell this story.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.