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.
Although delivering little in the way of new information, Sides, an Outside magazine editor-at-large and bestselling author (Ghost Soldiers), eloquently paints the landscape and history of the 19th-century Southwest, combining Larry McMurtry's lyricism with the historian's attachment to facts. Inevitably, Sides's main focus is the virtual decimation of the Navajo nation from the 1820s to the late 1860s. Sides depicts the complex role of whites in the subjugation of the Navajos through his portrait of Kit Carson an illiterate trapper, soldier and scout who knew the Native Americans intimately, married two of them and, without blinking, participated in the Indians' slaughter. Books about Carson have been numerous, but Sides is better than most Carson biographers in setting his exploits against a larger backdrop: the unstoppable idea of manifest destiny. Of course, as counterpoint to the progress of Carson and other whites, Sides details the fierce but doomed defense mounted by the Navajos over long decades. This culminated in their final, desperate "stand" during 1863 at Canyon de Chelly, more than a decade after a contingent of federal troops operating under a commander whose last name of "Washington" seems ironic in this context killed their great leader, Narbona.
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Blood and Thunder
One of the best true stories of the American west ever written. This book should be made into a movie starring Matthew McConaughey as Kit Carson. This is one of the original real life hero’s that penned the Indiana Jones tales of the late 1800s. also provides a true look at the struggles between the Western expansion and the Native Americans during the time. It’s a major page turner.
Great Book - Terrible Edition
This is a very well-told biography of Kit Carson, but it is an even better story of the New Mexico Territory and it's complex history during the 19th century. The interplay of cultural narrative, territorial conquest, and adventure story makes for absorbing reading. The treatment of Native Americans is balanced, with plenty of blame to go around. The downside of this edition is that the iBooks version is sold without the maps of the print edition. It is unconscionable for Apple to charge what it does for this book and not provide the maps. This story - indeed any such history - cannot be understood properly without it's geographical context, and this comes only with maps. Until Apple corrects this sordid practice of selling fatally incomplete editions, I shall never purchase another iBook of any genre.
Blood and Thunder
The best book about the west in the early to mid 1800's I have read.