From Publishers Weekly
Nebraska historian Dunlay (Wolves for the Blue Soldiers) goes to great lengths in searching for the real Kit Carson and finds the truth somewhere between his image as the romantic superhero of dime novels and the negative image of an Indian killer drawn in recent years by revisionist historians and Native Americans. Arguing his position plainly and thoroughly, the author relates how Carson (1809-1868), an unlettered son of the Missouri frontier, went on to a multifarious career: trapper, western guide and scout, Indian agent, combat soldier, U.S. Army officer, leader, adviser, policeman and peacemaker. Dunlay’s Carson is a modest and complex man, riddled with contradictions that have contributed largely to his conflicting reputation as Indian slayer and friend (he is credited with bringing down the Navajo nationAhe viewed the Navajo as rabid warriorsAbut he befriended the Ute peoples, among others. Carson also used his own resources in aiding dispossessed tribal families). Carson had no remorse about employing violence when necessary but could be equally critical of injustices at the hands of the U.S. and of various Indian tribes. In the end, Dunlay succeeds in presenting a man who spent much of his life and efforts solving the problems of both Native Americans and the white settlers, a man who can be criticized and lauded but who clearly contributed to what America has become. As Carson said, “I done what I thought was best.'” This book will find a solid readership among western history buffs and those interested in Native American history and affairs. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Carson, once the archetypal frontier hero immortalized in dime novels, has recently suffered from bad press. Various revisionist historians have dismissed him as a shameless self-promoter, a greedy manipulator, and a racist who cold-bloodedly lied to induce the surrender of the Navajos. Dunlay, a freelance writer and historian, doesn’t recanonize Carson, but he does present a more balanced portrait that evades the trap of holding Carson to current standards of enlightened attitudes. Undoubtedly, Carson had an entrepreneurial spirit, but Dunlay convincingly illustrates that Carson generally played by the rules in seeking his advancement. While Carson displayed the typical contempt for and mistrust of Indians characteristic of nineteenth-century westerners, he was quite capable of forging amicable relations with individual Indians. Dunlay is a scrupulously fair biographer whose admiration for his subject doesn’t interfere with his judgment. This work is a valuable contribution to our knowledge of one of the West’s more colorful historical figures. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.