Clark's Bookshelf.

Author:Isaacs, Clark
Position:'Kit Carson: The Life of an American Border Man' and 'The Bronco Bill Gang' and 'The Rich and The Dead' - Book review

Clark's Bookshelf

Kit Carson: The Life of an American Border Man

David Remley

University of Oklahoma Press

9780806141725 $24.95

Kit Carson's life and escapades are chronicled by David Remley as Volume 27 in the Oklahoma Western Biographies series. A glimpse into the 1800's makes the reader realize that though times are difficult today, they are not nearly as rough as they were when our country was being molded and shaped during a by-gone era when the means of transportation was horse and mule.

Populations grew and the immigrants who came to America found that opportunity was beyond the borders of the eastern states. This book takes us to the land of opportunity that the Scots and Irish sought in order to make a life for their families. Hard times and oppression was left behind in their native lands, or so they thought. Farming and living off the land was available in their new homeland, but it necessitated cutting trees, clearing fields, and fighting off Indians who were being displaced by the newcomers.

It was in this climate that Kit Carson was born into a family whose father had died when he was a youngster. He was signed on as an apprentice to a saddle maker by his mother, but in his teenage years promptly joined a group which was migrating to the West.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this biography is the dispelling of myths which surrounded Kit's interaction with Indian tribes, ruffians, and those who endangered peace among the new settlers. Remley's research has brought into this biography a better understanding of what happened during Kit Carson's life. There are many "dime novels" which fantasied what he did. These books were sold mostly in Europe to an audience which wanted to read about what it was like to live in the 'Wild West'. What Remley has delivered is a realistic story which incorporates some newly discovered documents which were commented upon by Kit Carson. Kit Carson was educated in the practical side of getting along with Indians and how to negotiate with them, but what was astounding is the fact Kit could not read! Yet, he had become a Lt. Col. in the army of the United States.

Carson's ability to ride, communicate with the Indians, and know the land made him invaluable to the army. Often he was placed in situations which made his expertise indispensable in the resolution of extreme conflict.

This is an excellent book for all who want to know more about the old west. There are two maps which show the trail route west from...

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