Blood and Thunder

Blood and Thunder is notable for good writing and is chock-full of interesting details about the remarkable life of frontiersman Kit Carson. Hampton Sides is a first-rate researcher who has unearthed scads of interesting stuff about Carson’s life, the fur trade and the varied cultures of the American Indian tribes Carson lived with, traded with, or fought with over the course of his far-ranging travels in the early 1800s. Carson trapped at nearly every river in the intermountain West—the Sacramento, the Yellowstone, the Snake, the Columbia and the Powder. Though he was illiterate, he learned French and Spanish and could make himself understood in a dozen American Indian languages. When he couldn’t speak, he could sign. He was a fierce fighter, though he stood a mere 5-feet-4-inches tall. He lived a life crammed with adventures and narrow escapes, and the places he knew grow harder to imagine with each passing year, as Wal-Marts get thrown up on land that Carson once may have traversed on his mule, with a Hawken rifle balanced on the pommel of his saddle.