Mountain & Prairie Book Club discussion

Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West
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Blood and Thunder > July-August Book Selection - Blood & Thunder

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message 1: by Ed (new)

Ed Roberson | 56 comments Mod
From the blog book club page:
If you’ve been following the blog and podcast for a while, you know that I read tons of books about the American West—everything from the detailed history of barbed wire to biographies of Stegner and Abbey to ecological examinations of the West’s large mammals.

But if I could only recommend one book, the choice would be easy. This book combines dense, specific history of the white man’s settling of the West, structured around the biography of one of our country's most heroic-notorious-paradoxical characters.  It sheds light on the horrific mistreatment of Native Americans, while explaining the “Manifest Destiny” thinking that led to those atrocities. And it presents all of this information in an amazingly entertaining and exciting narrative that is truly fun to read.

The July-August Book Club Selection is: "Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West" by Hampton Sides

Blood and Thunder is in my top five favorite books of all time, and—no exaggeration—everyone I know who’s read it has loved it. Reading the book gave me a base level of knowledge about the West that has served me well both professionally and personally.  This is also one of those books that introduces you to countless characters and concepts that will warrant further reading and study—it’s a gateway drug into deep Western history.

If you’re like me, you’ll be disgusted by the government’s treatment of Native Americans, and likely perplexed by Kit Carson’s role in the “taming of the West” and the seemingly hypocritical nature of some of his actions. Was he really the Western superhero character that pop culture portrays him as?  I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on that.

Hampton Sides is a world-class writer who has honed his gift for telling complex stories in easy-to-read, engaging prose. I’ve read most of his books and much of his shorter-form writing for Outside magazine and the like—his subjects span a broad range but his writing is consistently top-notch. But of all he has written, there’s something special about Blood and Thunder that has stuck with me for years and years, so I trust that you’ll glean lots of value from it, as well.

message 2: by Cody (new)

Cody | 2 comments As I’m finishing this book up (love it btw) I can’t help but think of Tribe by Junger and wonder if his representations of native lifestyles was too shallow. One surprising element in B&T is how diverse native tribes were in temperament and structure, yet I got the impression from “Tribe” that he was attempting to paint it as a form and pattern that we Americans should have emulated. Reading about some of the atrocities (on both sides) makes me wonder if it is that simple or maybe I’m remembering his descriptions incorrectly.

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