Sides, Hampton 1962–
Sides, Hampton 1962–
(W. Hampton Sides, Wade Hampton Sides)
Born January 31, 1962, in Memphis, TN; son of Wade H. (an attorney and professor of law) and Dorothy (a homemaker) Sides; married Anne Goodwin (a radio journalist), September 2, 1990; children: three sons. Education: Yale University, B.A.
Home—NM. Agent—Joy Harris, Lantz/Harris Literary Agency, 156 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010.
Writer and journalist. Memphis, Memphis, TN, associate editor, 1984-86; Washingtonian, Washington, DC, staff writer, 1986-88; City Paper, Washington, DC, associate editor, 1988-89; freelance writer, 1989—; editor-at-large for Outside magazine.
College Journalism Award, Rolling Stone, 1984; Mary Roberts Rinehart grant, 1985; three gold medals, City and Regional Magazine Awards, University of Kansas, 1987-88; Barnes & Noble 2001 Discover Great New Writers Award for nonfiction; PEN USA Award for nonfiction, 2002; National Magazine Award nomination, 2003.
Stomping Grounds: A Pilgrim's Progress through Eight American Subcultures, Morrow (New York, NY), 1992.
Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor) Why Moths Hate Thomas Edison and Other Urgent Inquiries into the Odd Nature of Nature: The Best of Outside Magazine's "The Wild File," illustrations by Jason Schneider, Norton (New York, NY), 2001.
Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier, Anchor Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2006.
Ghost Soldiers, along with The Great Raid on Cabanatuan by William Breuer, was adapted for film by Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro and released by Miramax, 2005; Blood and Thunder is being adapted for film by Dreamworks.
Hampton Sides is a nonfiction writer recognized "for homing in on some of the most intense and violent moments in history," as noted by a contribu- tor to Outside magazine. For example, in his book Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission, Sides writes about the Bataan Death March survivors. The author focuses not only on the death march itself but also on a later mission that sent 121 U.S. Army Rangers into the Philippines. These rangers eventually rescued from Japanese prison camps the 500-plus prisoners of war who were the last survivors of the notorious death march that killed thousands. The book includes numerous illustrations as well as portraits of some of the survivors fifty-plus years later.
Victorino Matus, writing in the National Review called Ghost Soldiers a "powerful new retelling of the raid," adding: "Using prisoner diaries, U.S. and Japanese army records, other archived transcripts, and extensive interviews with survivors, he has crafted a book chockfull of dialogue, anecdotes, and meticulous detail." In a review for Booklist, Gilbert Taylor wrote that the author provides a "skillfully modulated narrative of the atmosphere, courageousness, and human cost of the operation." Several reviewers also noted the comprehensive approach the author took in telling the story. For example, Richard Bernstein wrote in the New York Times: "Mr. Sides's ‘Ghost Soldiers’ is entirely up to the task of laying the full story out, from the operation's back story in the bloody battle for the Philippines to the gripping assault and prisoner evacuation."
A longtime contributor to Outside magazine, Sides is also editor of Why Moths Hate Thomas Edison and other Urgent Inquiries into the Odd Nature of Nature: The Best of Outside Magazine's "The Wild File." The articles are culled from a question-and-answer column focusing on nature and animals. The various articles provide answers to such wide-ranging questions as why men have nipples and what causes artic mirages. David Pitt, writing in Booklist, called the book "a painless, entertaining way to acquire some basic knowledge about the way the world works."
Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier is a collection of articles and essays by Sides about various aspects of the American landscape, life, and society. The thirty stories range from rafting the Grand Canyon during an engineered flood to profiles of Native Americans and Sides's time as an embedded journalist in Iraq. "With an eye for detail and the absurd, Sides … presents a vivid portrait of the restlessness and inventiveness of Americans," wrote Vanessa Bush in Booklist. Alison Hopkins wrote in the Library Journal that "each piece is detailed and absorbing."
In Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West, Sides essentially tells the story of the American Navajo Indians and their encounters with the Spanish and then the Americans as the white man moved westward. The author especially explores the Navajos' battle with forces led by legendary Indian scout and western adventurer Kit Carson, who burned down the tribe's corn harvest and pursued them into a sacred canyon. Eventually Carson captures the Navajos and sends 9,000 of them on a forced march to a reservation in eastern New Mexico, with five hundred of the Navajo dying along the way.
"Hampton Sides's outstanding narrative history has all the virtues: stirring set-pieces, deft character studies, colourful descriptions of battles and of nature, plus full avoidance of politically correct nonsense wherein North American Indians are solely noble savages," wrote Frank McLynn of Blood and Thunder in London's Independent. Michael Moorcock wrote in the Guardian: "Anyone who has read Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian or grew up on John Ford westerns will be enlightened. Those yet to read that novel or see the movies will find that this book adds deep resonances to their pleasure." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the author "eloquently paints the landscape and history of the 19th-century Southwest." N. Scott Momaday, writing in the New York Times Book Review, noted: "Sides … has a talent for encapsulation. His thumbnail sketches of character are comprehensive and concise at the same time."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission, p. 1446; August, 2001, David Pitt, review of Why Moths Hate Thomas Edison and Other Urgent Inquiries into the Odd Nature of Nature: The Best of Outside Magazine's "The Wild File," p. 2066; April 15, 2004, Vanessa Bush, review of Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier, p. 1421; August 1, 2006, Jay Freeman, review of Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West, p. 34.
Daily Variety, October 27, 2006, Michael Fleming, "D'Works Out for Blood. (DreamWorks L.L.C. Acquired ‘Blood and Thunder’ Book from Hampton Sides)," p. 1.
Discover, October, 2001, review of Why Moths Hate Thomas Edison and Other Urgent Inquiries into the Odd Nature of Nature, p. 85.
Entertainment Weekly, July 13, 2001, Mark Harris, review of Ghost Soldiers, p. 77; October 6, 2006, Troy Patterson, review of Blood and Thunder, p. 73.
Esprit de Corps, November, 2002, review of Ghost Soldiers, p. 24.
Esquire, November, 2006, Tyler Cabot, review of Blood and Thunder, p. 44.
Guardian (London, England), March 10, 2007, Michael Moorcock, review of Blood and Thunder.
Independent (London, England), April 14, 2007, Frank McLynn, review of Blood and Thunder.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2006, review of Blood and Thunder, p. 773.
Library Journal, June 1, 2001, Mel D. Lane, review of Ghost Soldiers, p. 188; April 1, 2004, Alison Hopkins, review of Americana, p. 113; September 15, 2006, Stephen H. Peters, review of Blood and Thunder, p. 73.
National Review, October 1, 2001, Victorino Matus, review of Ghost Soldiers.
New Statesman, August 27, 2001, James Holland, review of Ghost Soldiers, p. 40.
New York Times Book Review, June 10, 2001, David Murray, review of Ghost Soldiers, p. 32; October 29, 2006, N. Scott Momaday, review of Blood and Thunder, p. 21.
New York Times, June 11, 2001, Richard Bernstein, review of Ghost Soldiers, p. E6; December 3, 2006, "100 Notable Books of the Year," includes mention of Blood and Thunder, p. 14.
Outside, October, 2006, "Thunderstruck: Q&A with Hampton Sides."
Publishers Weekly, March 26, 2001, review of Ghost Soldiers, p. 72; September 4, 2006, review of Blood and Thunder, p. 52.
Time, June 4, 2001, Jesse Birnbaum, review of Ghost Soldiers, p. 72.
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (May 9, 2007), brief profile of author.