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Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  366 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
The true story (on which the film Jeremiah Johnson was partially based) of John Johnson, who in 1847 found his wife and her unborn child had been killed by Crow braves. Out of this tragedy came one of the most gripping feuds one man against a whole tribe in American history."
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 22nd 1983 by Indiana University Press (first published 1959)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 776)
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Esteban del Mal
All of the Conrad, none of the guilt!

A sight met her passengers which was certainly calculated to shock the nerves of any eastern tenderfoot. Along the brink of the river bank on both sides of the landing a row of stakes was planted, and each stake carried a white, grinning Indian skull. They were evidently the pride of the inhabitants, and a little to one side, as if guarding them, stood a trapper, well-known throughout eastern Montana by the sobriquet of 'Liver-Eating' Johnson. He was leaning
...more
Eric Ruark
Aug 01, 2014 Eric Ruark rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book. I love the movie Jeremiah Johnson. This was the book that they based the film on. The book is a fascinating study of what it was like to be a "mountain man" at the height of the fur trapping era. It is also a powerful story of love/hate and if I said any more, I would have to fill this review with spoilers. By the way, it is not a book for the faint of heart. The men involved were capable of great cruelty to match their unbelievable bravery.
Don
Sep 04, 2011 Don rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
Written for a 1940s audience, this is pretty much a tall tale of the legends of Liver-Eating Johnson, which is not to say it's unentertaining. It's fun, even if it's not true.
Tres Herndon
May 16, 2013 Tres Herndon rated it liked it
Man, John Johnson was about the baddest human being ever to walk the planet if even half of the stories in this book are true. I recently saw the movie "Jeremiah Johnson" for the first time and was curious about the true story behind the character's inspiration.

Johnson's story may be fairly unbelievable, but the authors went to great lengths to verify most tales from multiple sources. I constantly had to remind myself that the world the Mountain Men lived in was vastly different from the world o
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Robert Clancy
Apr 26, 2016 Robert Clancy rated it really liked it
Robert Redford's portrayal of the 19th Century mountain man, Jeremiah Johnson, in Sidney Pollack's popular movie is a wimpy "tenderfoot" compared with the accounts of the real Jeremiah Johnson, also known as "Liver-Eating Johnson" or just simply "Liver-Eater" or "Crow Killer" by many indian tribes. As the title of this book announces, Johnson was renowned throughout mountain men and indian circles for his blood lust vendetta against the Crow Indians. As a young man, he took a Flathead squaw as a ...more
Scott
Sep 21, 2010 Scott rated it really liked it
A good friend recommended this book for a quick read. He thought I'd enjoy the historical action of this. He was right. I had seen "Jeremiah Johnson" the Robert Redford movie years ago and was curious what was behind the "Hollywood" initiative to make a movie out of this hunter/trapper of the mid 19th century. What I can say, is that Hollywood did not do this guy any justice. Liver-Eating Johnson was one hell of a badass. Period.
Philip
This and another book called "Mountain Man" by Vardis Fisher were the basis of the movie "Jeremiah Johnson" -- one of my top 2-3 movies of all time. Based on real mountain man John Johnson, the name was changed for the film to make it sound more old-Westy.
Tana Wold
Oct 22, 2012 Tana Wold rated it it was amazing


The movie is nothing compared to this. They should make a movie closer to this story. I loved it. I wanted to read this book since I was a kid and saw Jeremiah Johnson, forgot about it until recently.
Emmett Tullia
Mar 01, 2016 Emmett Tullia rated it really liked it
Fascinating story. The brutal way of life is tough to grasp when living in our modern world. I'm glad the author didn't candy coat life back then. I'm also glad that Johnston wasn't vilified for the killing that went on. The one aspect of the book I didn't care much for was the way the authors stated over and over and over about how word of mouth stories may have some inaccuracies and they can't totally vet all the things Johnston has done. We get it. No internet, not much photography, word of m ...more
J.L. Day
Apr 30, 2015 J.L. Day rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Randy Shytles
Phenomenal piece of historic literature. Truth is so VERY much better than fiction, the movie Jeremiah Johnson was a fantastic movie, but did not portray 1/1,000th of the complexity, the courage, the sheer audacity or the bravery of this legendary mountain man. His code of honor and ethical morality in a different time and place, not to mention cultural intricacies involved due to tribal affiliations with native Americans truly make this a Great American Epic of the Settling of the West.

This is
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H.
Jun 09, 2011 H. rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Crow Killer is the story of John “Liver-Eating” Johnston. Johnston served as the inspiration for Jeremiah Johnson in the eponymous 1972 movie. The movie only covers a small portion of Johnston’s life and sanitizes his story, however.

Johnston made his living as a fur trapper in the American west for decades between the halcyon days of fur trapping and the advent of the “wild, wild west” much more prominent in the American psyche (Johnston and his fellow mountain men derided cowboys as tenderfoots
...more
Shaun
Mar 04, 2012 Shaun rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I enjoyed the book despite the fact that it is presented as historical even though it is largely fiction. For what it is, it is captivating. It tells the story of a rugged man who exemplifies the era in which he lived, and in fact outlived. It was a gruff era of self reliance and bloodshed. Vendetta after vendetta is carried out. And yet, for all the gruesome bloodshed, bigotry and hatred there is a morality present. There is an odd respect for this man driven to do detestable things.

I only have
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Eric Juneau
Dec 17, 2013 Eric Juneau rated it liked it
My in-laws have a cabin in Montana, and I think they bought this book because it mostly takes place in Montana and regions thereabouts, plus they like Westerns. It tells the story of "Liver-Eating Johnson", also known as John Johnson or Jeremiah Johnson (from the movie with Robert Redford, which is not a true story, but fictionalized. Kind of like 8-Mile), taken from the anecdotes gathered from the few living people who knew him.

I don't like to read much non-fiction, but this book kicks ass. Joh
...more
Legrand
Mar 05, 2014 Legrand rated it really liked it
Amazing feats of physical endurance, solitude and coming to terms with a dying way of life, this man engaged in a lengthy revenge against the Crow nation for their braves killing his wife and unborn child, and claimed to have killed 300 of them. Narrative account of the life of a mountain man, which also served as the basis for the film "Jeremiah Johnson". Interestingly, the man is buried in Los Angeles, California.
Joey Torregiani
Jun 10, 2015 Joey Torregiani is currently reading it
In the crow killer by raymond w. thorp, he explains that there’s a guy name johnson. Johnson was from the desert. And johnson has to survive in the wild. The book is about the mexican revolution and american revolution. Johnson finds a horse and he keeps it. Johnson survives by eating animals in the wild. Johnson had a wife and her unborn child had been killed by braves crows.
Anthony Zappia
Found this to be an interesting book. Learnt so much about the Wild West. However it is quite a bloody history, so I can't say I enjoyed reading this book.
Scalpings left, right and centre. If that appeals to you, read this book. If you enjoy history and want to get a sense of what the Old West was like, read this book.
Eepeterson2003
Feb 25, 2014 Eepeterson2003 rated it really liked it
Brutal read, but worth it. Depicts a strange time and harsh environment distant from our modern life. Most feel its fiction, but more than likely close to truth based on the mountain man "code" of the time
Craig
Sep 19, 2011 Craig rated it really liked it
I found this book at a house up along the Madison River in Montana. Nothing more than the intriguing title pull my eye to it and I have to say I was ready for some historical tale.

Crow Killer is the story of John Johnston who became infamous among frontiersmen for taking out 100s of Crow Indians (and anyone else who challenged him) to exact revenge for the killing of his Flathead wife. Many recollections by several people who crossed paths with or trapped with Johnson, are pieced together to we
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Michele
Mar 14, 2016 Michele rated it it was ok
Thorp and Bunker don’t pretend that they are legitimate historians, but merely people passing along what they heard about Johnson from this old mountain man who heard it from that old mountain man. It is folksy and not terribly well written. I also get a little uncomfortable when reading about gruesome rapes, murders, and racist attitudes. They aren’t my favorite topics, and though Thorp and Bunker don’t really sensationalize the scenes, it is still gross.

http://ireadalotofbooks.com/crow-kill...
Laura Lynch-miller
May 29, 2015 Laura Lynch-miller rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People interested in the wild west era.
Shelves: biography, history
Liver-Eating Johnson was like a hybrid between Daniel Boone and a mass murderer. That sounds worse than it is; it seems like Johnson believed he never lost the moral high ground, but he really killed a lot of people (mostly Native Americans, and always in self-defense or revenge). The author seemed to think Johnson lived the way he lived because he prized personal freedom above everything else. I just wondered if Johnson liked killing people too. I'm not sure I liked him, but it was an interesti ...more
Wayne
Sep 01, 2014 Wayne rated it it was amazing
Hell,i do not know if this is completely true,but what a read,he was a wild man,in wild times.
Stephan
Apr 10, 2014 Stephan rated it it was amazing
Liver eating Johnson was a badass.
Max R.
Mar 30, 2016 Max R. rated it it was amazing
I find most of this account believable, based as it is on oral history gathered by the authors over the course of decades. There is one obvious "tall tale": Johnson beating off first a mountain lion and then a grizzly bear by using the frozen leg of a Blackfoot warrior after his escape from that tribe -- but I think there's little doubt he would have taken that leg as food, so it's a stretcher and not an outright lie.

If you're squeamish, this book ain't for you, but I found it highly entertainin
...more
Jim
Jan 10, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing
Excellent.
Phil Gavenda
Jul 06, 2016 Phil Gavenda rated it did not like it
One of the most outrageous historical fabrications ever.
Mythros
Jul 29, 2013 Mythros rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any one interested in US early western history of explorers, pioneers, Native Americans.
Recommended to Mythros by: no one
I enjoyed this book very much. Easily readable & entertaining. Old west history of early fur trappers in the western mountain county. Foot notes refers to source of information. Copyright 1958 Indiana University Press.
Bill
Jan 04, 2012 Bill rated it liked it
Interesting. Makes you think how easy we have it now. John Johnston is a far cry from the Hollywood version "Jeremiah Johnson". Best line from this book "Living a life you don't have to defend is not worth living".
Robb Todd
This book was the basis for the Robert Redford movie "Jeremiah Johnson." Some great tales about mountain men. It was an enjoyable, quick read. The world was almost unrecognizable and it wasn't that long ago.
Lynne
Feb 23, 2009 Lynne rated it it was amazing
This is the true story of Jeremiah Johnson, not some dumb Robert Redford fable. I've read it twice and loved it both times. Johnson was a true hero of the West and one of the few to die of old age.
William
Oct 22, 2009 William rated it it was amazing
Another of my all time favorite books. I love non-fiction, and this one has everything in it. Trappers, Indians, betrayal, revenge and honor. This book has broad appeal.
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Crow Killer (John Liver Eating Johnston) 2 5 Aug 30, 2012 08:45AM  
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