ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson, by Raymond W. Thorp -- A Mountain Man Book Review

Updated on October 29, 2013
Photograph is in the public domain
Photograph is in the public domain
Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson (Midland Book)
Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson (Midland Book)

The reviewed book, which presents a detailed account of Jeremiah Johnson's life as a mountain man in the early frontier history of the United States.

 

A mountain man is often pictured as a powerfully-built, rugged man with a bushy salt-and-pepper beard and a face worn and leathered by weather and time. He wears handmade buckskin, a coonskin cap, probably knee-high moccasins that are fringed along the sides or the back, and he carries an ancient rifle. While many know the popular image and can picture this man with ease, few stop to consider that these men really lived – and some still do. Despite the sensationalism of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show, the true image of the mountain man has survived the years, and is one of the few to have done so.

Now let’s take a trip to the mountain regions of the Western United States around the end of the 1800s. Before there were roads or Indian reservations in the “Wild West” there were those who inhabited the mountains that were considered inhospitable to human life. They had a distinct lifestyle that shunned the “civilized” world, and that required people to live by their wits and the provisions of the untamed wilderness; these were the Mountain Men. For these people, life consisted of hunting and trapping throughout every long winter for furs to use and to take to trading posts for other provisions. They had to seek shelter and food, and felt they must kill any native inhabitants of the land who might wish to kill them.

Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson, by Raymond W. Thorp, details what is known of one such mountain man. This man was well-known for his size and strength, as well as the exploits and conditions that earned him the name “Liver-Eating” Johnson, or the Crow Killer. John Johnson headed out West as a 20-year-old man eager to make his way in the wilderness of the Big Blue. After purchasing a rifle and a good horse, he struck out across country and learned the way of the mountain man through a number of different mentors. All went well until one ill-fated year. He married a girl of the Flathead tribe, and then left her in their cabin to head for the winter trap line. When he returned in the spring, he found that she had been attacked, scalped, and murdered by marauding Crow warriors – her and their unborn child. The next 15 years of Johnson’s life were invested in a vendetta against the Crow as he sought vengeance for the death of his family. He killed all Crow who crossed his path, took their scalps, and at their livers raw.

Hollywood couldn’t imagine a more dramatic and gruesome tale than the life of John Johnson, though they did attempt to re-create it in the 1972 film Jeremiah Johnson based on this true tale. Though originally buried in California, John Johnson now lies in Old Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming – where I first became acquainted with his story. My father often attended the Mountain Man Rendezvous that is held in the Beartooth Mountains outside of Cody, and that is who introduced me to this old West legend and the story that people still retell today.

This is an excellent recounting of John Johnson’s life that’s written in an easy-to-read format, it flows nicely, and is delivered in a writing style that allows readers to almost hear the slow high mountain drawl that was characteristic of the mountain men. It is concise and moves along well, and does limit the graphic detail in what is a very disturbing story in parts. I definitely recommend this book to those seeking to learn more about the mountain men, or who have watched the movie Jeremiah Johnson and would like the whole story behind the film.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Dorman Nelson 

      7 years ago

      Howdy,

      Actually his life was more interesting than the movie. I have spent over half my life trying to find out who he was, where he went, and what he did. From a seafarer, to trapper, to trader, to deputy, to scout, to a performer, to trying to start his own theatre troupe, he was always busy. Drank a bit, hit the hot pools, and shot a few people, but that was the era he was born to.

    • wychic profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mikulin 

      8 years ago from Sheridan, Wyoming

      Agreed! It seems like there should be one out there somewhere, but I know I've never seen it...maybe people think the real story would be a bit gruesome in and of itself? His life certainly seems custom-made for movies.

    • profile image

      JamesW 

      8 years ago

      So many westerns were made with this story as the theme. Why not make a non-fiction movie of Liver eating Johnson?

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)