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Extended Audio Sample Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West Audiobook, by Hampton Sides Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (3,060 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Hampton Sides Narrator: Don Leslie Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2006 ISBN: 9781415933169
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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 twenty 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.

Hampton Sides’s extraordinary book brings the history of the American conquest of the West to ringing life. It is a tale with many heroes and villains, but as is found in the best history, the same person might be both. At the center of it all stands the remarkable figure of Kit Carson—the legendary trapper, scout, and soldier who embodies all the contradictions and ambiguities of the American experience in the West. Brave and clever, beloved by his contemporaries, Carson was an illiterate mountain man who twice married Indian women and understood and respected the tribes better than any other American alive. Yet he was also a cold-blooded killer who willingly followed orders tantamount to massacre. Carson’s almost unimaginable exploits made him a household name when they were written up in pulp novels known as “blood-and-thunders,” but now that name is a bitter curse for contemporary Navajo, who cannot forget his role in the travails of their ancestors.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Riveting . . . monumental . .. . Not only does Blood and Thunder capture a pivotal moment in U.S. history in marvelous detail, it is also authoritative and masterfully told. The Washington Post Book World
  • Stunning. . . Both haunting and lyrical, Blood and Thunder is truly a masterpiece. Los Angeles Times
  • We see a panorama and a whole history, intricately laced with wonder and meaning, coalesce into a story of epic proportions, a story full of authority and color, truth and prophecy . . . Sides fills a conspicuous void in the history of the American West. N. Scott Momaday, The New York Times Book Review
  • From the lean crisp descriptions of the characters to the sights, sounds and smells of the trail, this is a crystal clear picture of the West. San Antonio Express News
  • One of the 2006 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bonnie | 2/16/2014

    " I tend to glaze over when battles come up, but other than that, it was a very interesting look at a very interesting man and time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 2/13/2014

    " Excellent account of Kit Carson's life and his involvement in the annexation of New Mexico the subjugation of the Navajo Indians. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa | 2/3/2014

    " One of the best non-fiction works I have ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Quindaro E. C. Frieder | 12/29/2013

    " I read this book upon moving to NM. I figured I should know something about where I live. IT is a fascinating book. And, apparently, it is going to be turned into a mini series! LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ilana | 12/23/2013

    " Joe somewhat resembles Kit Carson... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael Geiger | 12/18/2013

    " excellent read, great time line for the completion of the continental United States. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynnita | 12/12/2013

    " Anything Hampton Sides writes is something I want to read. I loved reading about Kit Carson and his adventures. What an amazing life! I would recommend this to anyone who loves history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Clay | 12/11/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book. The history of the west and southwest is just incredible. The writing is vivid and crisp, the pace fast and gripping. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Quinn | 11/20/2013

    " Fascinating, informative and very readable story about Kit Carson and Manifest Destiny. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stuart | 11/8/2013

    " Despite the title, this bio of Kit Carson isn't quite as exciting as it ought to be. The author is a bit of a windbag, and he bites off more than he can chew in trying to make Carson's story the story of the West. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erich | 4/22/2013

    " History of American expansion in the west, history and anthropology of Native Americans (especially the Navajo) and a biography of Kit Carson all wrapped together with florid but enjoyable prose. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 12/16/2012

    " An outstanding and even handed assessment of the opening of the American West told through the life and exploits of Kit Carson. Anyone who enjoys a good Western will like this book and you will come away with some history in the bargain! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenny Smoddy | 8/20/2012

    " Fascinating, sad, and sometimes sublimely ridiculous tale of Manifest Destiny and the destruction left in its wake "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sheri | 8/12/2012

    " Again, took me a while to get through it, but Mr. Sides can tell a story! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janell | 2/20/2012

    " I am slow...This ended up being a really great book although it was long I am glad that I continued on with reading. I am excited to read some of the books this author used as his resources too. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phyllis O | 10/20/2011

    " The true story of Kit Carson, and how the US really 'won' the west. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aaron Blais | 10/6/2011

    " A decent account of the characters on both sides of the conflict between settlers and Natives in California and New Mexico around the mid-eighteenth century. Would skip around a bit too much for all but the most serious history buff. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzie | 9/13/2011

    " Fabulous writer! Am going to read more of his books. Great book, maybe I could have rated it a 5, for sure a 4.5 if there was one. If you, like I, did not pay attention to history in school, you better read this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Allen | 5/27/2011

    " Page turning history. Made better by having visited many of the sites in Arizona and New Mexico. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 5/6/2011

    " A very different view of the Navajo nation and of Kit Carson. Well written, fascinating and a must for anyone interested in the history of the Southwest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 4/24/2011

    " A great book about how the American West came together through manifest destiny and the skill and courage of Kit Carson - although more about the former. Honestly, it's an easy read, informative and very enjoyable, especially for a fan of American history like myself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 4/11/2011

    " I would not have thought I would enjoy this book this much. I like Hampton Sides' writing and the narration was good. I did relate to some of the places this took place having lived in Southern Colorado and in Idaho for years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 3/27/2011

    " A thumping good read. Sides has done some deep research on the American West, deftly balancing a distinctly two-sided subject, and just happens to be a bang-up writer as well! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tyler | 3/4/2011

    " One of the most compelling history books I've read. The narrative flows like a novel in this larger-than-life story of Kit Carson and America's westward expansion into Indian and Mexican territory. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frank | 2/25/2011

    " It is an excellent biography of Kit Carson, a more significant and interesting character than we realize. In addition it is a very good overview of Southwestern history, centered around the 1840. And, it is the best writing on the Navajos I have read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa | 2/24/2011

    " One of the best non-fiction works I have ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 2/12/2011

    " Fascinating, informative and very readable story about Kit Carson and Manifest Destiny. "

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About the Author
Author Hampton SidesA native of Memphis, Hampton Sides is editor-atlarge for Outside magazine and the author of the international best-seller, Ghost Soldiers (Doubleday), which was the basis for the 2005 Miramax film, The Great Raid. Ghost Soldiers won the 2002 PEN USA award for non-fiction and the 2002 Discover Award from Barnes & Noble, and his magazine work has been twice nominated for National Magazine Awards for feature writing. Hampton is also the author of Americana (Anchor) and Stomping Grounds (William Morrow). A graduate of Yale with a B.A. in history, he lives in New Mexico with his wife, Anne, and their three sons.
About the Narrator

Don Leslie has appeared on Broadway, off Broadway, and in regional theaters throughout the country. He has been heard in thousands of commercials, promos for all the broadcast networks and most cable stations, political campaigns, movie trailers, and over fifty audiobooks.