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)
Truly enjoyed the book. Provided a unique and entertaining view of history not covered during my "school" days. Made for a good listen, my Mom liked it to.
This is a terrific audiobook. The narrator held my interest the entire time, and I liked his voice, which fit in very well with this tale of the West. I also enjoyed learning many details about the life of Kit Carson, and how men like Carson and Fremont lived on the frontier. The battle scenes were excellently described, and it was a very exciting listen. I would highly recommend it to those who like history books.
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.
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.
Well researched, superbly written, and ably narrated, this story of American manifest destiny revolves around Kit Carson - whom seemed to intersect with every meaningful event of the period in Forest Gump fashion. The Navajo people also play a prominent part of the book. The ending came upon me suddenly and left me wanting another twenty chapters!
I love Hampton Sides and this may be his best book. Full of little known or unknown (at least to me) historical details about the settlement of the American Southwest. Drama, intrigue, heartache, heroism, dastardly deeds dastardly done, this book has it all. More please Mr. Sides.
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