Book Reviews of Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson

Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson
Crow Killer The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson
Author: Robert Thorp, Raymond W. Bunker
ISBN-13: 9780253203120
ISBN-10: 0253203120
Publication Date: 8/1983
Pages: 192
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.

4.1 stars, based on 4 ratings
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Book Type: Paperback
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reviewed Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson on + 47 more book reviews
Review by an reader: This little volume of what professes to be pure history contains the exploits, along with a good many stories that probably aren't true, of the Mountain Man John Johnson. Some of these stories are almost definitely true--Johnson's battle with the twenty Crow warriors over fourteen years, for example. Still, some of these tales are more than likely fictitious, made-up accounts passed on among the last Mountain Men until Thorp stumbled upon them.

For sources, Thorp has few, and they are second or third-hand at best. Most of them were old men who were trying to remember stories or `things they'd heard' a half-century before. Even Thorp's principal source, "White-eye" Anderson, was getting most of his information third-hand. Thorp proclaims his source as impeccable, but even he can't help but include, in the course of the narrative, that White-eye had a famous capacity for "story-telling."

So why give this any stars at all? Well, it IS fun to read. A lot of these stories are just plain entertaining, and Johnson's war against the Crows is based in fact (in fact, this account is probably fairly accurate). No matter what, you can get a good look at the late Mountain Man era by reading about Johnson (and his companions') exploits. Of course, sneaking up on Indians and massacring them does get quite dull even after less than two hundred pages, so fortunately this book isn't longer.

All in all, this is an entertaining read. It isn't written very well, and the author's attempts at dialect are horrendous, but it is still a lot of fun. Just bear in mind that this little book, history though it proclaims to be, is probably as much Mountain Man myth as anything.