Blood and Thunder

An Epic of the American West
Narrated by: Don Leslie
Length: 20 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,737 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

 

A magnificent history of the American conquest of the West; "a story full of authority and color, truth and prophecy" (The New York Times Book Review). 

In the summer of 1846, the Army of the West marched through Santa Fe, en route to invade and occupy the Western territories claimed by Mexico. Fueled by the new ideology of “Manifest Destiny,” this land grab would lead to a decades-long battle between the United States and the Navajos, the fiercely resistant rulers of a huge swath of mountainous desert wilderness. 

At the center of this sweeping tale is Kit Carson, the trapper, scout, and soldier whose adventures made him a legend. Sides shows us how this illiterate mountain man understood and respected the Western tribes better than any other American, yet willingly followed orders that would ultimately devastate the Navajo nation. 

Rich in detail and spanning more than three decades, this is an essential addition to our understanding of how the West was really won. 

©2006 Hampton Sides (P)2006 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

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

What listeners say about Blood and Thunder

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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.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Unforgettable

This had to be one of the best I've ever had. The story of Kit Carson is unbelievable it's men like him who helped shape America for the good and the bad. If you like history this book will definitely open your eyes to a lot of things that were never taught in school but things that you wish they would of have taught us. The narrator was on the money he was perfect for the book and if you like American history and a true story this is definitely the book you want you won't be disappointed

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

History Many Don't Know

This is a wonderful book, wonderfully narrated. The book tells the story of the US war with Mexico to acquire what is now the southwestern part of the country. It is not, I believe, well known. At least, it wasn't to me. The story of the US Army's dealings with the Indian tribes in the area, particularly the Navajo, is also told. Much of the book deals with Kit Carson, who, I discover, was a huge figure in achieving our manifest destiny, along with President Polk and Senator Benton. Carson is one of the most fascinating figures in American history. News to me.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

great

Wow! I wish more nonfiction books were written like this. Using a storyteller's narrative, the author manages to be factual, balanced and entertaining.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

blood and thunder

A fabulous book about Kit Carson and the development of the southwest. The reader was great as well as a very well told story. I heard Hampton Sides speak in Santa Fe after listening to the book and he told of the tremendous amount of research that he did. If you like history and the Southwest, this is a must read.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Engaging and enlightening

While difficult to feel pride in this chapter of our American heritage, this book carries you through the historic period guided by the US policy of manifest destiny. The central character is Kit Carson, who embodies the phrase 'a legend in his own time.' If ever there was a man of skill, integrity, honor and fortune, it is he. Carson was a man who defined good in an era when the US imposed its will on Native Americans. The book does not make Kit Carson infallible, but it does provide a sound, timeless role model.

There are also many others on all sides of the conflicts, who portray the best and worst of the human character.

Twenty hours is a long story, but I found myself antsy to carve time to keep 'turning the pages.'

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An Insightful Account

Mr. Sides has an astounding talent for taking otherwise dry historical accounts and making them into well paced reads for the non-historian.

To some extent, the precis on this book is deceptive, in that Narbona is not the core character. It would be much more true to say that Kit Carson is central to this book, as it largely follows his post-trapping career in the American southwest, and ends just after his death.

One thing which does come through clearly here is how much complete failure to comprehend cultural differences, ignorant bigotry, and narrow-minded military mindsets on the Mexican, Indian, and American parts combined to contribute to numerous needless atrocities by all sides shaped the character of the Southwest. Happily, many figures of the time (Carson, Kearney, Narbona) come out as clear of all of these factors. Unfortunately many others (Chivington, Carlton, Manualito) come through as clear contributors.

All together, this book came out as a very balanced characterization of a difficult time in American history.

The presentation is clear and the pacing is good. Mr. Leslie does a reasonable job of contributing accent to quotations to characterize them as distinct from narrative text.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic

I listened to this title while driving across the traditional homeland of the Navajo, which in some ways made the words more alive than they would be if listened to elsewhere, but even allowing for the dual enchantment of the land combined with the words, Blood and Thunder is a masterpiece. I've subsequently listened to the entire book again, and it was as good as the first time.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

excellent

i live in taos and so this book hits home. i think it has a balanced approach to kit carson. very good listen. the only problem i had was with some of the readers pronunciations of spanish words like rio grande and basque.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The West

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Kristian
  • 10-06-16

Epic and fantastic story.

I never knew anything about Kid Carson apart from having heard his name. He is by far one of the most if not the most interesting characters i ever heard about in connection to the american wild west

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gj
  • 02-23-20

Heard about it on Joe Rogan too ???

Excellent book and written well keeps you interested throughout. If you’ve any interest in how the west was truly “won” look no further.

  • Overall
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  • Mr. M. S. Cranmer
  • 01-25-20

A brilliant story

Such an interesting book, really well narrated. Well worth a listen, learnt a lot about the mid west.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Derek McCallum
  • 01-23-20

An excellent account of a wild time in history.

An excellent account of a wild and brutal time in history. Extremely detailed story to the point I thought I was there. The narrator gives a great account of himself with a voice I could listen to all day.