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Boone: A Biography

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The story of Daniel Boone is the story of America—its ideals, its promise, its romance, and its destiny. Bestselling, critically acclaimed author Robert Morgan reveals the complex character of a frontiersman whose heroic life was far stranger and more fascinating than the myths that surround him. This rich, authoritative biography offers a wholly new perspective on a man The story of Daniel Boone is the story of America—its ideals, its promise, its romance, and its destiny. Bestselling, critically acclaimed author Robert Morgan reveals the complex character of a frontiersman whose heroic life was far stranger and more fascinating than the myths that surround him. This rich, authoritative biography offers a wholly new perspective on a man who has been an American icon for more than two hundred years—a hero as important to American history as his more political contemporaries George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Extensive endnotes, cultural and historical background material, and maps and illustrations underscore the scope of this distinguished and immensely entertaining work.


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The story of Daniel Boone is the story of America—its ideals, its promise, its romance, and its destiny. Bestselling, critically acclaimed author Robert Morgan reveals the complex character of a frontiersman whose heroic life was far stranger and more fascinating than the myths that surround him. This rich, authoritative biography offers a wholly new perspective on a man The story of Daniel Boone is the story of America—its ideals, its promise, its romance, and its destiny. Bestselling, critically acclaimed author Robert Morgan reveals the complex character of a frontiersman whose heroic life was far stranger and more fascinating than the myths that surround him. This rich, authoritative biography offers a wholly new perspective on a man who has been an American icon for more than two hundred years—a hero as important to American history as his more political contemporaries George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Extensive endnotes, cultural and historical background material, and maps and illustrations underscore the scope of this distinguished and immensely entertaining work.

30 review for Boone: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    BOONE was a fascinating read, and offered many things I look for in a great biography: insight, understanding of why the subject is worth knowing, human perspective, and historical perspective, all in a narrative that flows like a good story. Robert Morgan, more known for his fiction, has accomplished much of this, though I dropped the fifth star because it needed some additional editing to remove a fair amount of unnecessary repetition and to improve the flow in a few places where the narrative BOONE was a fascinating read, and offered many things I look for in a great biography: insight, understanding of why the subject is worth knowing, human perspective, and historical perspective, all in a narrative that flows like a good story. Robert Morgan, more known for his fiction, has accomplished much of this, though I dropped the fifth star because it needed some additional editing to remove a fair amount of unnecessary repetition and to improve the flow in a few places where the narrative bogs down. For the most part, however, this book was both edifying and entertaining. The first words of the book are "Forget the coonskin cap; he never wore one." This sets the tone for one of the themes of the book -- that the myth of Daniel Boone was a phenomenon in itself and was often at odds with the real man, or was at least a larger-than-life image that served the purposes of those who helped create it. The author leaves no doubt, however, that Boone was a complex man of remarkable skill, industry, and courage. Irony plays a starring role in the life of Daniel Boone. For someone whose fame and reputation were widespread -- during his lifetime and beyond -- Boone was a terrible businessman who was constantly, throughout his life, in trouble because of profligate spending and inattention to record-keeping and the details of proper legal transactions. His many prolonged adventures and exploratory expeditions made him an often absent husband to Rebeccah and their 10 children, though they moved many times to join him. Yet again and again he was celebrated, written about, elected to public office, and chosen for jobs over others without these weaknesses. The greatest irony of Boone's life is that his hunger for adventure and wilderness, for discovering uncharted territory, for living at one with Nature like the Indians, and the resulting trails that he blazed, actually paved the way for the rush of settlers westward that destroyed so much of what he loved. He lived long enough to appreciate and regret this irony. Boone's relationship with the native Americans was particularly interesting in light of the conflicting stories about him and the suspicion by some whites that he was more sympathetic to the Indian cause than to theirs. He was greatly admired by many Indians for being such a skilled woodsman and hunter. When he was captured by the Shawnees for several months, he was adopted by the kidnappers, and there is good evidence that the bonds he formed with many members of that tribe endured to the very end of his life. Yet his reputation as an Indian fighter was made through his fearless and ferocious defense of various forts and settlements against Indian attacks; he had furs and horses stolen by the Indians time and again; and many among his family and friends were killed by Indians, including his sons James and Israel, and his brother Ned. The dangers and hardships of frontier life were masterfully and vividly portrayed in this book. Perhaps the most compelling part of the book was the strong case made by the author for the impact that Boone and his legend had on thinkers, writers and artists in the decades after his death. He quotes historian Richard Slotkin, "[I]t was the figure of Daniel Boone, the solitary, Indian-like hunter of the deep woods, that became the most significant, most emotionally compelling myth-hero of the early republic. The other myth-figures are reflections or variations of this basic type." We find Boone's incarnations in the heroes of James Fennimore Cooper (e.g. Leatherstocking, Hawkeye and Natty Bumppo). The works of Thomas Cole, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Lord Byron, and Walt Whitman all reflect strong inspiration of Daniel Boone and the life he loved. "[By the 1850s], the image and legend of Boone had pervaded the American consciousness...Boone had become a figure of America's ideal self, a touchstone of poetry and history and national identity."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Literary Chic

    Boone is a fantastic biography of an interesting early American. It is thorough and great at veering the reader away from the mythical "coonskin cap wearing baaar killer." However, sometimes it's cumbersome in details. While interesting, this biography takes a patient reader in my opinion. I'm a Kentucky girl and loved all the great details about my state. Mr. Morgan uses familiar landmarks and accurate depictions of the Bluegrass State. Having had school field trips and long weekend visits to Boone is a fantastic biography of an interesting early American. It is thorough and great at veering the reader away from the mythical "coonskin cap wearing baaar killer." However, sometimes it's cumbersome in details. While interesting, this biography takes a patient reader in my opinion. I'm a Kentucky girl and loved all the great details about my state. Mr. Morgan uses familiar landmarks and accurate depictions of the Bluegrass State. Having had school field trips and long weekend visits to many of the locations described, it was nice to hear more of the history of Kentucky's infancy. Even though it took me longer than normal to complete, Boone was well worth the time.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    What strikes me as the greatest accomplishment of Robert Morgan in this biography of Daniel Boone is stripping away the myth and describing the person. Boone himself was a complex figure. He was a great success as a trapper and explorer. He routinely failed as a businessman and land speculator. He was lucky and he made his own luck. Despite being so well known to Americans, he died in Missouri at 86 and was pretty much broke. His story was such that he was mentioned in the works of poets and What strikes me as the greatest accomplishment of Robert Morgan in this biography of Daniel Boone is stripping away the myth and describing the person. Boone himself was a complex figure. He was a great success as a trapper and explorer. He routinely failed as a businessman and land speculator. He was lucky and he made his own luck. Despite being so well known to Americans, he died in Missouri at 86 and was pretty much broke. His story was such that he was mentioned in the works of poets and writers. James Fennimore Cooper based a number of novels on his life and exploits, Natty Bumppo, "la longue carabine," the Pathfinder, Hawkeye, and so on. The book does a nice job of relating his family background, his childhood, and his increasing interest in trapping, hunting, and exploring. He fought in the French and Indian War (serving with Braddock on this ill-starred campaign) and the Revolutionary War. He was instrumental in helping the process of development of American interests in Kentucky. His relationship with Native Americans was complex. His business efforts, designed to provide security for his family, routinely ended in failure. Land that he thought had been given him in Kentucky was lost through court action; he once lost $20,000 as he was going back to Virginia to deposit this and finalize land claims; and so on. And, a stunning realization. . . . He went with a group of explorers and visited the Yellowstone area while he was in his mid 70s! How many 70 year olds would be able to cross half a continent in 1809 and return? This book is a wonderfully balanced view of the life of Boone. For those who want to know the man more than the myth, this is most rewarding. Some nice features: a genealogy at the outset, a brief chronology of Boone's life. More maps would have been useful, to place his travels and life in a broader geographic perspective. Nonetheless, a fine work.

  4. 5 out of 5

    bup

    I'm not sure what I was expecting from a biography of Daniel Boone, but I never got too close. The author argued, perhaps correctly, that Boone is a sort of Rorschach of the American psyche, and will always be mysterious, but it also feels like he didn't even really try. Honestly, too, I had a hard time not being overly distracted by the narrator. His mouth and the English language are apparently on the outs, and fought a lot during the reading. He attacked sounds and they fought back. Further, I'm not sure what I was expecting from a biography of Daniel Boone, but I never got too close. The author argued, perhaps correctly, that Boone is a sort of Rorschach of the American psyche, and will always be mysterious, but it also feels like he didn't even really try. Honestly, too, I had a hard time not being overly distracted by the narrator. His mouth and the English language are apparently on the outs, and fought a lot during the reading. He attacked sounds and they fought back. Further, he inflected some clauses the wrong way, emphasizing the wrong word or words. Except for some basic facts about Boone's life (born near Philadelphia a Quaker, in debt a lot of his life, imprisoned by Shawnees for a couple of years, fought in a 1782 battle of the American Revolution), I don't have any better sense of the man than I did before I read it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    John

    This wasn't bad, though it could have been a hundred pages shorter. I wanted to read it because Boone's lifespan matches up pretty closely to the era that I am studying, but he was in Kentucky and Missouri, rather than Maine/Canada. So my people went one way and he went the other. It got me thinking about options in early America - where did people see opportunity? Why move to Kentucky, where you might very well get killed by Indians, when you could move to Canada, where you were much less This wasn't bad, though it could have been a hundred pages shorter. I wanted to read it because Boone's lifespan matches up pretty closely to the era that I am studying, but he was in Kentucky and Missouri, rather than Maine/Canada. So my people went one way and he went the other. It got me thinking about options in early America - where did people see opportunity? Why move to Kentucky, where you might very well get killed by Indians, when you could move to Canada, where you were much less likely to get killed by Indians? Was it just proximity? I was also interested in all the times Boone flirted with the British (he WAS kind of flirting with moving to Canada). Morgan is determined to argue that Boone was leading the British along, never really interested in switching sides, etc, but then he notes that some of Boone's in-laws were loyalists. And Boone seems to have had no trouble moving to Spanish territory in Missouri - in fact, it sounds like he was delighted to leave US territory behind, and kind of disappointed when the states caught up to him. I think this could have been a nice chance to consider loyalty or lack thereof in this era. Boone became this American prototype, except really he was this man without a clear national identity. I also have to say, books like this drive me a little crazy when they draw from early to mid-19th century biographies and treat them like they are just normal sources. To his credit, Morgan mentions occasionally that one story or another is probably an exaggeration, but there were a lot of really fishy stories that he simply repeated. And he didn't have to - for example, Boone was taken by the Shawnee at one point and "adopted," and lived with them for months. This was a golden opportunity to get into what scholars know today about how these "adoptions" actually worked, but Morgan basically just uses one of these antique biographies as his source and calls it good. He also could have spent a little more time on the fact that Boone and his whole family were slaveholders. He spent a little time there, but it seemed like he would give it a couple of sentences and then happily move on. He spent more time on spurious "one time Boone hid from Indians in a cave for a week, then shot two Indians with one bullet" stories than he did on slavery. Seems inappropriate.

  6. 5 out of 5

    J.R.

    Separating fact from fiction in writing a biography of an iconic figure like Boone is a major challenge and Morgan is to be commended for this effort. It’s unfortunate the several efforts Boone made to leave a personal account of his life were lost due to accidents and misadventures and later biographers were forced to rely on written records that may have been biased or based on hearsay. Morgan’s research clears up many of the false assertions about Boone and gives us a closer look at the real Separating fact from fiction in writing a biography of an iconic figure like Boone is a major challenge and Morgan is to be commended for this effort. It’s unfortunate the several efforts Boone made to leave a personal account of his life were lost due to accidents and misadventures and later biographers were forced to rely on written records that may have been biased or based on hearsay. Morgan’s research clears up many of the false assertions about Boone and gives us a closer look at the real man. His is not a blatant example of hero worship—he gives us the good and the bad about the man. There is the honest, considerate and loving family man; the lover of the wild who would inspire Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman; the soldier, who never unnecessarily took a life. There’s the careless businessman, mired in debt and failing over and over again. There’s also the irony of the hunter who shot game with no thought for tomorrow and the lover of wilderness who led others who would destroy the solitude and beauty he cherished. Boone obviously admired the Indian and their way of life, to the extent he was accused of treason and was able to overlook the murder of family and friends and the captivity of his favorite daughter and himself. Yet he was as culpable as others in the destruction of their society. Morgan gives the impression the Quaker Boones and their neighbors had no problems with the Native Americans while living in Pennsylvania. Though the Quakers and Moravians did enjoy peaceful relations with the native peoples for long periods of time, tensions were increasing before the Boones left Oley Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Land sales the Penns and their representatives negotiated with the Iroquois as early as the 1730s riled the Lenape/Delaware who claimed the same territory and influenced them to side with the French later in the strife known as the French and Indian War. Thanks to Conrad Weiser, a diplomat and interpreter, a peace was brokered in 1737 between the Iroquois and southern tribes, averting violence certain to have spilled over into Pennsylvania and Virginia. Morgan refers to Logan who, seeking revenge for the murder of his family, helped spark the 1774 Dunmore’s War, as a Mingo. In fact, Logan (Tachnechdorus) was a son of Shikellamy, the Iroquois vice regent at Shamokin PA. Mingo is a corruption of the Lenape term “minqua,” which can be interpreted as “treacherous.” Aside from these minor quibbles, I’d say Morgan has done a wonderful job in presenting a Boone who truly deserves the fame society has granted him.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Liked the book. Thanks to the tv show I thought Dan'l Boone wore a coonskin cap and wandered around exploring the frontier and saving settler's lives. This book gave me a much better and more detailed account of Daniel Boone and his life; I realized that there is a man behind the legend who struggled with much of the same things people do today. I found it kind of sad actually; that a man who so loved the wilderness of Kentucky but lived through the disappearance of wildlife as well as the land Liked the book. Thanks to the tv show I thought Dan'l Boone wore a coonskin cap and wandered around exploring the frontier and saving settler's lives. This book gave me a much better and more detailed account of Daniel Boone and his life; I realized that there is a man behind the legend who struggled with much of the same things people do today. I found it kind of sad actually; that a man who so loved the wilderness of Kentucky but lived through the disappearance of wildlife as well as the land being divied up by holding companies and settlers. He didn't get to keep a piece of it himself - always moving onto somewhere with less financial headaches, less settlers and more wildlife. Living in Kentucky, this book gives me an appreciation of the area where I live, but I wonder how much of this country Daniel Boone would recognize today.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Mendez

    Having grown up on the Disney t.v. show, Daniel Boone, I appreciated being disabused of the fantasy ideas I had absorbed as a child about this man. This book was so interesting not only about Daniel's life but also about the wilderness of Can tuck ee (Kentucky) and the Shawnee Indians. It seems like you can almost reach out and touch the time and place at one moment. And in the next moment you can't help feeling sad that this world is gone. The wilderness, the wild animals, the native American Having grown up on the Disney t.v. show, Daniel Boone, I appreciated being disabused of the fantasy ideas I had absorbed as a child about this man. This book was so interesting not only about Daniel's life but also about the wilderness of Can tuck ee (Kentucky) and the Shawnee Indians. It seems like you can almost reach out and touch the time and place at one moment. And in the next moment you can't help feeling sad that this world is gone. The wilderness, the wild animals, the native American cultures, the pioneer culture were so unique and yet changed so quickly in the 18th century. This biography is well-written and brings Daniel Boone to life. Not in the fictious, larger-than-life legend way, but with all his human qualities and God-given talents, strengths and even weaknesses.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ranette

    Hello Parrish relatives!! Did you know our GGG grandpa, Edward Parrish knew Daniel Boone? This is recorded in a county history from that time. I just loved this book, especially the 2nd half, starting with Ch. 9 were Boone chased down some Indians who stole his daughter, Jemimah. He loved to hunt, roam and move west. He tried to make peace with every one, and be honest. Lots to understand about the times, Indians, and settlers.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brenden Gallagher

    "Many believe Boone in his final years saw clearly the contradictions of his life, how his 'love of nature' had led not to a future of peaceful hunting with Indians but to the destruction of the hunting grounds the Indians had preserved so long." "The story of Boone is the story of America. From the Blue Ridge to the Bluegrass, from Yadkin to the Yellowstone, no man sought and loved the wilderness with more passion and dedication. Yet none did more to lead settlers and developers to destroy that "Many believe Boone in his final years saw clearly the contradictions of his life, how his 'love of nature' had led not to a future of peaceful hunting with Indians but to the destruction of the hunting grounds the Indians had preserved so long." "The story of Boone is the story of America. From the Blue Ridge to the Bluegrass, from Yadkin to the Yellowstone, no man sought and loved the wilderness with more passion and dedication. Yet none did more to lead settlers and developers to destroy that wilderness in a few short decades." These two passages contain the major theme and major tensions of Robert Morgan's masterful biography of the frontiersman Daniel Boone. Morgan clearly has a deep respect for the transcendentalist writers of the mid-1800s and the European romantics of the same era. He has sought here to write a Romantic or Transcendentalist biography. In Morgan's view, Boone's life can be read as a work of art that greatly influences and shapes reflections on nature and the frontier experience that would come later. My favorite section of the book was a roughly 100 page section in which Morgan describes Boone's years as a trapper and explorer in the wilderness. Untethered from major battles or tragic personal events in Boone's life (those would come), Morgan tries to capture Boone's love of the vast untamed wilderness. He is free to spend pages describing a particular trapping technique or a certain pocket of the vast undiscovered country. The most compelling point that Morgan makes about Boone is that he represents an alternative American history that the sins of the settlers made impossible. While Boone fought the Native Americans, and they fought him, there was a mutual respect, and even playfulness about their early encounters. It was almost as if Boone was challenged to prove himself to local tribes and because he did, he was allowed to live among them. As America pushed west, it became clear that the United States would spell the end for the Native American way of life, and that the way of the settler was not a way of compromise. Boone too would be steamrolled by progress. He spent the first half of his life in the woods and the second half in debt. Because he stood for an approach to the wilderness that desired something short of capitalist clear cutting, he too would have to go. Of course, Morgan puts its better than I can. He writes: "Over that period that great meadow would cease to be a land of buffalo and hunters and become a land of layers, politicians, accountants, slave holders and hemp planters. However much he might come to hate the change, Boone was as much to blame as any other single human being." This idea: that Daniel Boone was at once the greatest lover and greatest destroyer of the frontier is as beautiful and tragic an idea as you could find in any fiction. And of course, this contradiction is one still playing out in America today.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Morgan goes back and forth in this book. He is at his best when he gets caught up in the amazing story of Daniel Boone. He portrays Boone with flair and captures the fascination and passion of a great explorer, pioneer and icon. At times, however, he gets distracted by details provided by other biographers, Morgan's own pet fascinations (often information that should have been consigned to footnotes) or the impact of Boone's story on later literature including Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Byron Morgan goes back and forth in this book. He is at his best when he gets caught up in the amazing story of Daniel Boone. He portrays Boone with flair and captures the fascination and passion of a great explorer, pioneer and icon. At times, however, he gets distracted by details provided by other biographers, Morgan's own pet fascinations (often information that should have been consigned to footnotes) or the impact of Boone's story on later literature including Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Byron and others. And at times his language becomes an obstacle rather than a vehicle for the biography. He vacillates between tedious amounts of detail and beautiful turns of phrase. Still, for students of Boone's life who know a bit about the details of American history, the book is worthwhile and even at times beautiful. As an author, Morgan is at his best when blending the romanticism of Boone's love affair with the wilderness and the historical details of his story. "Boone was a leader ... and he was an expert marksman, scout trapper, navigator of the forest. He was a woodsman, but there was more, and he knew he was seeking more. In the name of his people ... and his own nature, he was spying on the western wilderness, as if there was a secret he must obtain. It was beyond the next ridge, and it was farther down the river of his days, the intelligence he must gather. Two years may be the time it takes to leave behind one's old self and see the world in a larger, clearer way ... It was about his contemplation of the clouds over the grasslands and the wooded ridge, and the sunset over the hurrying river. It was about how time would seem to stop even as the stars came out. He must play his part in the great curve of time. It was about the lay of the new land just waiting for him to see and walk over it."

  12. 5 out of 5

    skip thurnauer

    Everybody knows who Daniel Boone is from the 60s TV show and the movies. Boone had a particular fascination for me because one of my distant relatives had an adventure with him back in the early days of the country. But who was Daniel Boone? This biography provides insight into the life of the explorer and woodsman who helped settle the areas now known as Kentucky, W. Virginia, and Arkansas. From an early age Boone knew how to hunt, trap, and live off the land. His explorations into the wilds of Everybody knows who Daniel Boone is from the 60s TV show and the movies. Boone had a particular fascination for me because one of my distant relatives had an adventure with him back in the early days of the country. But who was Daniel Boone? This biography provides insight into the life of the explorer and woodsman who helped settle the areas now known as Kentucky, W. Virginia, and Arkansas. From an early age Boone knew how to hunt, trap, and live off the land. His explorations into the wilds of Kentucky made him prized as a guide as others sought access to the fertile blue grass lands in the west. While on more than one occasion Boone fought against the Indians of the Ohio Valley, they also appreciated him for his knowledge of nature and his hunting and survival abilities. The rescue of his daughter by an Indian war party is one of Boones best-known adventures. At one time he was even adopted by a Shawnee family. While he was a distinguished pioneer, Boone was less successful as a businessman and ended his life living under the patronage of one of his sons in Missouri. Boone's bio provides insights into the early settlements in what was considered then to be the wild wild west.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rich Torreson

    Morgan paints a picture of Boone, which, I believe, is as accurate as can be achieved of someone who is such an enigma. Boone is definitely a legend for good reason, but a roaming contradiction. How could such an honest, caring man be so loose and seemingly unconcerned about paying back his creditors? Was he selfish with his time when he left his family for months, even years, when he could have earned a living near home? I get the fact that he often had bad luck, but there were times when he Morgan paints a picture of Boone, which, I believe, is as accurate as can be achieved of someone who is such an enigma. Boone is definitely a legend for good reason, but a roaming contradiction. How could such an honest, caring man be so loose and seemingly unconcerned about paying back his creditors? Was he selfish with his time when he left his family for months, even years, when he could have earned a living near home? I get the fact that he often had bad luck, but there were times when he could have taken more responsibility to secure land that was rightfully his but still walked away. Did he enjoy being taken captive by Indians a little too much? Did his accusers have a point when they thought he was a bit too compliant in being captured in the first place? How could he lead the charge in settling Kentucky when it destroyed the way of life he loved and the respect he had for the Indians? All fair questions. I learned more from this book about native american history than any book I've read to date. This was a fascinating read and well worth the time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Justin Bryant

    Morgan did a fantastic job separating the man from the legend. Boone's faults and failures were as much on display throughout the book as were his triumphs that were many. I have a better understanding of the man and how he could inspire Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman, in turn filling generations of Americans with a romanticized view of ourselves. Morgan's work reads like it was written by a poet who was able to pull off a very good biography.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sammy Duncan

    Being a Son of the Bluegrass, I felt it almost essential to better understand the life and times of the man most responsible for opening the Dark and Bloody Ground to settlement from the eastern colonies. Boone was a man of contradictions and a man of his times but Kentucky would not be Kentucky without him.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sally Grey

    So he never wore a coonskin cap. He was really bad with keeping accounts and apparently hardly ever had enough money to pay his bills and couldn’t be counted on to do a reliable land survey. He led people into the land he loved and contributed to its distraction. He killed the animals he loved and contributed to their extinction. Pretty much a nutshell for the American frontiersman.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Eckhardt

    I had read several of Mr. Morgan's novels and was familiar with his excellent writing. This bio of Daniel was very enjoyable. It is a history of the early westward expansion of our country pre-Revolutionary War times as well as a biography of a very interesting and influential man. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in American history.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Spectacular historical read. Daniel Boone the man, his life, his flaws, and how he became a legendary figure for the new American Frontier. Especially rewarding to read about his devoted wife, Rebecca, and the family Boone was forever loyal to over the course of his life.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cliff Fawcett

    Overall I enjoyed the book. I had to set it down and pick it up a couple of times because it gets a little tedious at times. It’s an academically rigorous book. It’s not a “light read”. That being said, I learned a ton from reading it and I’m glad I kept with it and finished it

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ernie Seckinger

    Well written by a novelist. A comprehensive well documented bio. I especially appreciated extensive coverage of his son in law Flanders Callaway, my first cousin, 7 generations removed. Bought at the Bookworm, a grand used bookstore in Boulder, CO.

  21. 4 out of 5

    jeffrey

    Well-written, sympathetic account of Boone's life. James Jenner was an excellent narrator

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe Kosarek

    A good biography, but rhapsodic at times.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi Louden

    A bit too much detail and repetition at times, but interesting and thorough history of Daniel Boone.

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    A bit wordy, but very good. Interesting read. Great research on the history of the Kentucky territory and discusses much about character.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tanner Charlesworth

    Do you have a month? Then read this. Very detailed, Interesting, but will take some time.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Great Book! Its nothing like what we've been told about Boone. Truth is wilder than fiction for sure.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Travis McClain

    I have a DVD Talk community member to thank for reading Boone: A Biography. I have seen, time and again, that Lateralus is an avid reader of history and so when he declared this work on one of my childhood heroes the best book he'd read in two years I knew I had to read it. The moment I fell in love with this book came when I pictured Boone, the only living soul living in Kentucky, camped out at night reading Gulliver's Travels and the Holy Bible. What wondrous times those must have been, for a I have a DVD Talk community member to thank for reading Boone: A Biography. I have seen, time and again, that Lateralus is an avid reader of history and so when he declared this work on one of my childhood heroes the best book he'd read in two years I knew I had to read it. The moment I fell in love with this book came when I pictured Boone, the only living soul living in Kentucky, camped out at night reading Gulliver's Travels and the Holy Bible. What wondrous times those must have been, for a singular man to have an entire territory to himself! Certainly, it was not without danger, but then, as Boone himself once declared, "I wouldn't give a tinker's damn for a man who isn't sometimes afraid. Fear's the spice that makes it interesting to go ahead" (page 69). The subtitle is A Biography, but it should probably have been A Historiography, which is to say, Morgan has provided a history of the history of Daniel Boone. What Morgan brings to this volume is not just research; he contributes his own voice to the discussion of the implications of Boone's legacy and rather than outright discount all the anomalous claims of the pioneer scattered throughout the various historians who have chronicled his exploits, Morgan regularly pauses to explore the possible validity of each claim. Some he can debunk outright--for instance, noting that Boone could not have met with James Audobon in Kentucky at the time the famed ornithologist claimed, for he had yet to arrive in America during the time that Boone may have returned to his former home state. Rather, Morgan supposes that they met in Missouri and that Audobon relocated the discussions to Kentucky for the sake of his European audience, who would likely have been disappointed had they not been left with the image of Boone in the state he all but literally put on the map. Morgan is, by trade, a poet and prose writer and so his narrative of Boone's exploits go beyond the typically cut-and-dried approach of historians divorcing themselves from emotion for the sake of objectivity. When Boone arrives and takes his first look out onto the Appalachian Mountains, Morgan fills the account with awe and wonder; when Boone lays to rest loved ones, it is as much Morgan's sadness as Boone's that permeates the page. This is a very personal exploration of a man who, in many regards, existed as a self-contradiction. The explorer whose enthusiasm led directly to the destruction of the wilderness he loved, the hero hounded more by creditors than enemies, the devoted family man who once spent two entire years hunting in isolation during which his wife gave birth to what was likely the daughter of one of his own brothers; the list goes on. Now, in 2009 as we look with uncertainty toward our own present and future, it is with great comfort to recall the adventures of a man threatened with bankruptcy and external incursions and to know that the American spirit has, since before it was even American, endured such events. And, perhaps, we can learn from Boone's mistakes as well. If I had two complaints, it would be these. Firstly, I sincerely wish Morgan had employed footnotes, rather than endnotes. Not only that, but there are no markers in the text pointing the reader to a particular endnote; rather, one must consult the endnotes and see which chapter, page number and sentence originated with which text. This may have made for a cleaner page to look at, but it did hamper some of my reading as I wished to know, frequently, where Morgan had found a particular quote. Secondly, Morgan refers to events before discussing them several times. This is common in historical writing and the only reason I mention it in this instance is that this more prose-conscious work brought me much closer to Boone than my previous studies of the man. It "took me out of the book" to read a reference in one chapter that would not actually occur chronologically for another few chapters. Still and all, this is an impressive work and obviously a labor of genuine love for Morgan. Beyond being a fascinating read about one of my personal favorite historical figures, Boone is also a beautiful physical book. You can click the above thumbnail for a much larger look at the gorgeous cover art, but only by hefting the tome in your own hand can you appreciate the quality that Chapel Hill put into its publication. The pages undulate, the font is pleasing to the eye...this precisely the kind of work that one prominently displays among a library. Despite having read it, this is going direct to the top of my Books Wishlist.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Dobson

    Great biography! I learned a lot about my home state and our great country!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Murphy

    One of the most adventurous figures I have ever read about. One of those people that didn't let things get to him...he just went on about his business. Captured by the Shawnee Indians and was adopted by their Chief. Well rounded man with a whole lot of experiences, common sense and grit! While I do speed read, this book took a bit longer because I could not just breeze through his life, as there was just too much to skim over (with respect to the details made available.) If you like the time One of the most adventurous figures I have ever read about. One of those people that didn't let things get to him...he just went on about his business. Captured by the Shawnee Indians and was adopted by their Chief. Well rounded man with a whole lot of experiences, common sense and grit! While I do speed read, this book took a bit longer because I could not just breeze through his life, as there was just too much to skim over (with respect to the details made available.) If you like the time period, and the adventure of a lifetime...you should really read this book! Well worth the time.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    “Forget the coonskin cap; he never wore one. Daniel Boone thought coonskin caps uncouth, heavy, and uncomfortable. He always wore a beaver felt hat to protect him from sun and rain. The coonskin-topped Boone is the image from Hollywood and television. In fact, much that the public thinks it knows about Boone is fiction.” A couple of months ago I was reading a collection of pioneer stories from The Salem Democrat compiled in a book called Pioneer Pickings. In the book, were stories of Micajah “Forget the coonskin cap; he never wore one. Daniel Boone thought coonskin caps uncouth, heavy, and uncomfortable. He always wore a beaver felt hat to protect him from sun and rain. The coonskin-topped Boone is the image from Hollywood and television. In fact, much that the public thinks it knows about Boone is fiction.” A couple of months ago I was reading a collection of pioneer stories from The Salem Democrat compiled in a book called Pioneer Pickings. In the book, were stories of Micajah Callaway, a companion of Daniel Boone, including the story of the Shawnee taking them prisoner in 1798 while their party was manufacturing salt. It intrigued me to read more about Daniel Boone and I picked up this book by Robert Morgan. First, I have to say I got more out of this book than I bargained for. The fact that Daniel Boone’s family were Scots-Irish Quakers that settled in the same areas of the United States that my husband’s family did, really intrigued me. Morgan is a thorough historian, an excellent writer, and he made a valiant effort to uncover the real Daniel Boone. “Daniel told the story of being awakened one winter night in his camp near later Jonesborough, Tennessee, to find himself surrounded by Cherokees, as one lifted the snow-covered blanket off him. ‘Ah, Widemouth, have I got you now,’ the brave exclaimed. The Cherokees had given him that name, perhaps because he was prone to laughter and storytelling, and to them that’s how Boone was always known. The exclamation shows how elusive they had found Boone, though he was ranging in the heart of their hunting grounds. Not showing surprise, Boone sat up and smiled and shook hands with his captors.” Morgan portrays Boone as a man who had a deep connection with nature. In fact, the author weaves the poetry of Whitman and Thoreau throughout the book in a effort to set the backdrop for a person like Daniel Boone. He is soft-spoken, but deliberate. Honest and skilled in the ways of the wild. Yet, he chooses to ignore the bad side of humanity, often to his detriment. Boone is often taken advantage of by his fellow “Yankees” and proves to be as lacking in business sense as he is knowledgeable in the ways of the forest. I got the distinct impression that Boone was extremely likable and those that didn’t like him were probably just jealous, or felt wronged by Boone’s surveying in their land deals. I thoroughly enjoyed this intimate portrait of the American legend. I was also impressed with Morgan’s thoroughness in background information. From life on the frontier, to the Revolutionary War, to horses and watercraft – Robert Morgan strives to make the reader understand Boone’s world. It’s high time someone makes a good movie about the real Daniel Boone. I just hope they don’t screw it up!

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