Blood and Thunder

Genre: History, Nonfiction; Author: Hampton Sides; Publisher: Doubleday

The author of Ghost Soldiers, an engrossing 2001 history of the Bataan Death March, titles his new book, Blood and Thunder, after a bygone type of dime-store fiction. Hampton Sides writes that a blood-and-thunder was ”a precursor to the modern western, briskly paced and packed with cliffhangers and hair-raising scrapes,” and his fascinating work delivers just those pulpy pleasures as it recounts America’s expansionist war against Mexico in the 19th century. The ambivalent hero is the trapper and scout Kit Carson, who personifies ”the surge of Manifest Destiny” while also sensing that ”the once inexhaustible West was shrinking before his eyes.”

Originally posted September 29 2006 — 12:00 AM EDT

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