I have horribly neglected my reading of new books… I didn’t realize how much until I went to write this post and realized that I am only on book four. I have been reading lately, but it has been books that I’ve already read, so they don’t count.
Book four was Give Your Heart to the Hawks, by Win Blevins, and I finished it in just a couple of days. I bought it as a birthday present to myself, since I had heard great things about it and we now live in mountain man country.
The book is billed as a “tribute to the mountain men”, and that is pretty close to what it is. Organized roughly chronologically, stories of the mountain men are interspersed with essays on the lifestyle, skills, and times of these men. He uses mountain man slang increasingly throughout the book, which took some getting used to. There is a glossary in the back, which has most of the unfamiliar terms in it (and a brief explanation of the use of one term that is very offensive in today’s terminology). Some of the stories are the ones that I grew up hearing, Hugh Glass crawling out of the wilderness and John Colter running from the Blackfeet, and others were new to me. The essays on their lifestyle were pretty informative, and I learned quite a bit.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed reading it, and have recommended it to several people, but there were things about it that were not as great. I probably would have enjoyed it more a chapter at a time rather than in a few great bites, given that the chapters got a little repetitive. The organization of the chapters drove me a little nuts, but the writing was great, and the stories are amazing. It is not an exhaustive treatise, more like little snippets from each man, which is good and bad. I’m glad I read it, as it makes me appreciate the mountain man more, and it was a good read. One of the final chapters, on trapper and Native American relations, was more than enough to make up for the bits that drove me nuts.