Kit Carson by David Remley
The Life of an American Border Man (Oklahoma Western Biographies)

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Synopsis

History has portrayed Christopher "Kit" Carson in black and white. Best known as a nineteenth-century frontier hero, he has been represented more recently as an Indian killer responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Navajos. Biographer David Remley counters these polarized views, finding Carson to be less than a mythical hero, but more than a simpleminded rascal with a rifle.

Kit Carson: The Life of an American Border Man strikes a balance between prevailing notions about this quintessential western figure. Whereas the dime novelists exploited Carson's popular reputation, Remley reveals that the real man was dependable, ethical, and—for his day—relatively open-minded. Sifting through the extensive scholarship about Kit, the author illuminates the key dimensions of Carson's life, including his often neglected Scots-Irish heritage. His people's dire poverty and restlessness, their clannish rural life and sternly Protestant character, committed Carson, like his Scots-Irish ancestors, to loyalty and duty and to following his leader into battle without question.

Remley also places Carson in the context of his times by exploring his controversial relations with American Indians. Although despised for the merciless warfare he led on General James H. Carleton's behalf against the Navajos, Carson lived amicably among many Indian people, including the Utes, whom he served as U.S. government agent. Happily married to Waa-Nibe, an Arapaho woman, until her death, he formed a lasting friendship with their daughter, Adaline.

Remley sees Carson as a complicated man struggling to master life on America's borders, those highly unstable areas where people of different races, cultures, and languages met, mixed, and fought, sometimes against each other, sometimes together, for the possession of home, hunting rights, and honor.

 

About David Remley

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David Remley is the author of Crooked Road: The Story of the Alaska Highway; Adios Nuevo Mexico: The Santa Fe Journal of John Watts in 1859 ; and Bell Ranch: Cattle Ranching in the Southwest, 1824-1946.
 
Published October 14, 2011 by University of Oklahoma Press. 312 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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From the time he ran off from his apprenticeship at a saddle shop in Franklin, Mo., to his death at his last home in Fort Lyon, Colo., Carson was a man of action, making his livelihood as a trapper, guide, government scout and Indian agent.

May 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Kit Carson: The Life of an Am...

Publishers Weekly

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Remley (Crooked Road: The Story of the Alaska Highway) separates the myth from the man in this engrossing portrait of frontiersman Carson (1809–1868), Dime novels about Carson began to appear well before his death, ruthlessly exploiting his name in fanciful fictions.

Mar 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Kit Carson: The Life of an Am...

Historical Novel Society

While Kit Carson was known in the 19th century as a fearless frontier hero, some modern scholarship paints him as a notorious Indian killer responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Navajos.

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Macleans

American frontiersman Kit Carson remains a controversial figure.

Jun 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Kit Carson: The Life of an Am...

HistoryNet

"Ask people who Kit Carson was," David Remley posits in the preface to this new biography.

Feb 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Kit Carson: The Life of an Am...

Project MUSE

In his prefatory remarks to Kit Carson: The Life of an American Border Man, David Remley describes the difficulties inherent in writing about Carson's life and legacy.

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Project MUSE

However, Kit Carson: The Life of an American Border Man, by David Remley, offers an engaging new biography that takes a fresh look at answering a basic question: Who was Kit Carson?

| Read Full Review of Kit Carson: The Life of an Am...

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