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Hampton Sides

Award-winning editor of Outside magazine and bestselling historian

  • About Hampton Sides

    Hampton Sides is the author of Ghost Soldiers, Blood and Thunder, Hellhound On His Trail, In the Kingdom of Ice, and other bestselling works of narrative history. His most recent book, On Desperate Ground, is a chronicle of the extraordinary feats of heroism by Marines called on to do the impossible during the greatest battle of the Korean War.

    Sides’ talks, often accompanied by slideshows or multi-media presentations, enthrall audiences with the white-knuckle stories behind his epic books. He discusses his writing process and how he ties findings from obscure documents and his own exploration trips into his work. Sides’ discussions often focus on intriguing questions of leadership and ethics that arise in extremely difficult wilderness or battlefield situations—examining what qualities of training, attitude, and spirit cause some groups to prevail while others don’t.

    Hampton is editor-at-large for Outside Magazine and has written for such periodicals as National Geographic, The New Yorker, Esquire, Preservation, and Men’s Journal. His magazine work, collected in numerous published anthologies, has been twice nominated for National Magazine Awards for feature writing.

    Ghost Soldiers, a World War II narrative was the basis for the 2005 Miramax film, The Great Raid. Hampton’s Blood and Thunder, about the life and times of controversial frontiersman Kit Carson, was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2006 by Time magazine and is currently under development for the screen.

    Hampton is a partner in Atalaya Productions, a Santa Fe-based independent production company that develops historical dramas and non-fiction projects for the screen. A native of Memphis and a Yale graduate, Hampton is an advisory board member of the Author’s Guild and a 2015 Miller Distinguished Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute. A frequent lecturer, he divides his time between Santa Fe and Colorado College, where he teaches narrative non-fiction and serves as Journalist-in-Residence.

  • Speaking Topics

    In Extremis: Inspirational Case Studies of Leadership and Survival, from Men Under Duress in the Field

    In this wide-ranging multi-media lecture, Sides shares the story of how the U.S. Marines overcame nearly impossible odds in the bitter winter of 1950 in the Chosin Reservoir, the greatest battle of the Korean War. Drawing on his book On Desperate Ground, Sides provides a study in decision-making, courage, heroism, and survival from one of the classic battles of all time.

    White Hats: The American Yearning For Perfect Heroes In An Imperfect Age

    Putting The "Story" Back In History: Why We Need Narratives To Understand Our Past

    American Folk Hero. Genocidal Maniac. Pick One: Kit Carson and the Making of the American West.

    The Great Manhunt: How the FBI and Scotland Yard Caught Martin Luther King's assassin

  • Video

  • Praise for Hampton Sides


    Hampton was fabulous and very well received. He was funny in a dry way.  He covered the topics – The Opening of the West and Kit Carson and the search for the killer of MLK in a way that was informative and entertaining. Hampton was one of the best presenters we have had. A wonderful experience!

    Matrimonial Network

    Hampton was absolutely lovely and was a hit with our crowd. It was a pleasure meeting him and working with you!

    Southern Voices Festival

    The night was a huge success. Hampton’s address was very well received and the Q&A featured a number of very good questions about the Korean War in general and the Chosin Reservoir.

    Sanibel Public Library

    Praise for In The Kingdom of Ice

    Compelling....Sides spins a propulsive narrative from obscure documents, journals and his own firsthand visits to the Arctic regions visited by the Jeannette and its crew. In the Kingdom of Ice makes for harrowing reading as it recounts the grim aspects of the explorers' battle for survival: illness, crippling frostbite, snow-blindness and the prospect of starvation. As grisly as the details are, you keep turning pages to find out how DeLong and his men pull themselves past each setback — even though there's always another one looming ahead.

    USA Today

    As our knowledge of the world increases, it must be difficult for audacious explorers to find terra incognita to match their passion. Surely the same frustration holds true for writers in that worthy genre, exploration literature: Haven’t all great stories been told? Never underestimate the ingenuity of a first-rate author. Hampton Sides’s In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, which recounts the astonishing tribulations of a group of seafarers determined to be the first men to reach and reconnoiter the North Pole, is a splendid book in every way… It would be malicious to ruin the suspense about the fate of the Jeannette’s crew… The book is a marvelous nonfiction thriller.

    The Wall Street Journal

    Praise for Hellhound on his Trail

    "Searing...A complex crime mystery that shifts the focus from Dr. King to his killer... Gripping."

    The Wall Street Journal

    Praise for Blood and Thunder

    “Riveting . . . monumental . .. . Not only does Blood and Thunder capture a pivotal moment in U.S. history in marvelous detail, it is also authoritative and masterfully told.”

    The Washington Post Book World

    Praise for Americana

    “This may be the best road trip you’ll ever take—full of strange vision, hilarious detours, and sudden beauty in unlikely places.”

    Burkhard Bilger, staff writer at The New Yorker

    Praise for Ghost Soldiers

    “The greatest World War II story never told.”

  • Books by Hampton Sides

  • Media About Hampton Sides

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  • 212 572-2013
  • Hampton Sides travels from Santa Fe, NM

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