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Boone: A Biography (Shannon Ravenel Books) [Kindle Edition]

Robert Morgan
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Many historical figures are more interesting in reality than in myth. Daniel Boone was one of them. Brilliant explorer, trapper and pathfinder, renowned marksman and revolutionary militia officer, he was also a loner, parent, legislator, settler and failed speculator. Poet and fiction writer Morgan (Gap Creek) portrays Boone in lively prose but also in excessive detail. Must we know of Boone's life week by week or of favored Shawnee coital positions? And must he give us references to Emerson, Thoreau and Faulkner? Morgan is a trustworthy, up-to-date authority who needs no support from others. Boone comes fully alive in his pages. Morgan's objectivity gives us a completely realized man, the greatest pioneer of the Trans-Appalachian west, who helped open Kentucky to settlement but kept going, settling eventually in Missouri. His luck was as legendary as his deeds, given what he seems to have escaped. Yet Morgan skillfully assesses and often questions the validity of all the tales of good fortune and heroism attached to Boone. Most appealing today, Boone was deeply respectful of the native tribes, a respect returned by the Indians, many of whom he befriended even when he was in conflict with them. If only others had possessed his wisdom and character. Illus., maps. (Oct. 16)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It is, of course, difficult for a biographer to glean the reality from the legends of an iconic figure, particularly if that figure was already surrounded by myth and legend in his own lifetime, as was Daniel Boone. Still, poet and novelist Morgan has made a valiant effort in his absorbing and stirring chronicle of the great frontiersman. He strips away some of the most blatant falsehoods about his subject's life. Boone did not "discover" Kentucky or the Cumberland Gap, and he was neither an "Indian-lover" nor a particularly eager Indian fighter. Although the reality of Boone's life and character is more complicated than the mythology, he still emerges here as a fascinating, admirable, and even noble character. He was, in fact, instrumental in the opening of the trans-Appalachian West before the Revolution and fought in both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. When necessary, he fought Indians, but he also established friendships with many tribal chiefs. He settled in Missouri before it was absorbed by the U.S. and died there at the age of 86. Throughout his life, he displayed an adventurous and generous spirit that, combined with a tough intelligence, make him well worth the accolades he continues to receive. This outstanding biography will be ideal for general readers. Freeman, Jay

Product Details

  • File Size: 1737 KB
  • Print Length: 577 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1565126157
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; Reprint edition (September 23, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001FA0G2G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,042 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality separated from the Myth September 28, 2007
"Forget the coonskin cap; he never wore one." So starts this groundbreaking study of the life of one of America's best-known and least-understood heroes, Daniel Boone. Author Robert Morgan, a novelist by trade (Brave Enemies and Gap Creek) spent considerable time researching Boone's life, the result being a detailed biography that is well worth the reader's time.

Boone was born in rural Pennsylvania, moved to the Carolinas with his family as a boy, and then explored westwards from there. He wasn't the first person into Kentucky, as the author makes clear, but he wasn't far behind, and he established a good reputation for himself as a man who could find a way through the hills to good land, and would be honest with pioneers who were looking for a place to settle. He spent most of the American Revolution in Kentucky, participated only briefly in the fighting (in Virginia) and mainly was involved in conflicts in Kentucky with Indians, whether they were inspired by the British or were more opportunistic.

Morgan emphasizes Boone's naturalist instincts, and contrasts his expressed opinions with his actions--he and his cohorts often "hunted out" a region, then moved elsewhere once the game was depleted--and makes it clear that he was a contradiction, a man who understood the Indians but didn't care to live with them, who enjoyed the wilderness and wildlife but did a great deal to destroy or transform both. Legend has it that he would guide people to an area, and when enough had settled there, he would tell his wife they had to move further west to escape the press of civilization.

This is a well-written, intelligent biography, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I would recommend it to anyone interested in early American history, exploring, or the wilderness.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful treatment of a great subject October 15, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
At 538 pages Boone: A Biography is a terrific read. Robert Morgan, better known for his insightful and sensitive novels proves that he can turn his masterful storytelling ability to the nonfiction realm as well.

Boone: A Biography isn't easy to put down. If I called Boone a page turner it would be as much a statement about the life of the subject as it would be about Robert Morgans writing ability. Lets face it, Daniel Boone lived a life full of risk taking. He pushed the boundaries of the civilized world back and in doing so lived on the edge.

Born with a wondering spirit, Daniel showed his love of the woods around his Pennsylvania home at a very early age. Disappearing for long stretches at a time he explored, observed, and learned the ways of nature. He learned the ways of wild things, a gift that would later save his life many times.

One of the things a good biography does is tell the back story....the times the main character lived in. Morgan does a terrific job in letting us see Daniel Boone and the culture he came from. It was a rough time. The people on the frontier were beat up by life in general. Only the strong survived; the weak didn't make it. Cruel yes, but the country was better off for this reality. When James, Boone's son was tortured and killed by Indians, Daniel accepted the loss and then moved on. We of the twentyfirst century have a hard time dealing with that type of stoicism.

Wonderfully written, well researched, filled with copius notes, Boone: A Biography should be a sure read on your short list. Robert Morgan also includes wonderful pieces of trivia/folk lore. For example, where the term "buck" for a dollar came from.

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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great in places; a bit full of it elsewhere February 19, 2008
Robert Morgan's "Boone" reads like a very well-researched biography. Further, it gives a tremendous feel of life on the frontier during the Colonial Period and the first decades of our nation. When it sticks to Boone and the times, "Boone" is very informative and highly enjoyable.

On the other hand, a frontiersman like Boone obviously didn't leave a ton of biographical data behind. As a result, the author should have condensed his treatment. Instead he repeats himself a lot and at other time blathers nonsensically: running on about the beauty of the word 'Kentucky' or giving air time to a feminist critic who labels Boone's love of the woods as some kind of Freudian desire to deflower a woman. Sorry, sweetie, no sale. Sometimes a guy who likes to go hunting is just a guy who likes to go hunting.

The worst example of this is during the period where Boone explored the wilderness of Kentucky. Obviously there can be little to no documentation about this period of his life as he was in the middle of the wilderness, sometimes all alone. However, the author writes pages of stomach churning purple prose about what Boone thought and felt. Unless Morgan's telepathic or can communicate with the dead, these sections are coming completely out of his...ahem...coon skin cap.

Unfortunately, the flaws tend to make this book overlong and a chore to read in places. Further, the instances where one must question the validity of the writing tends to call the entire effort into question. As such, I cannot really recommend "Boone" despite some of its strengths.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Huge Life, a Huge Myth November 8, 2007
Because he lived during the time before and after the American Revolution, the life of Daniel Boone encompasses one of the most important of historical periods. The story of Boone is the story of America, argues Robert Morgan, who is usually a poet and novelist, but has written a stirring biography of the frontiersman, _Boone: A Biography_ (Algonquin Books). There have been plenty of other biographies, starting while Boone was still alive, and all of them have either mythologized the subject or have had to attempt to clear the myths away from fact. The latter is not an easy task; for someone who was enormously famous and influential during his lifetime, there are surprising voids that we can know little about, apart from all the exaggerations and stories that have clung to the pioneer. Morgan has tried to make a chronological story, and it is a good one indeed, but it is not clouded by any undue admiration on the part of the author. Boone was a outdoors hero, but he was distinctly flawed when it came to the responsibilities of business dealings or legal documentation which he could not avoid. In fact, admired as he was during the time, Boone was during his life "accused of treason, fraud, and hypocrisy and was once court-martialed... He was blamed for dishonest and incompetent land surveying, and sued again and again for debt." Morgan shows eventually that Boone was not dishonest or incompetent, but merely careless. He only wanted to get more "elbow room" and get into the woods where he was supremely careful and capable, but one of the great paradoxes of his life was that he was drawn to people and they to him.

The demythologizing starts with the very first sentence of the book: "Forget the coonskin cap; he never wore one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars What a life!
This is a well written and researched book that describes Boone's remarkable life (1734-1820) broken down into segments of time. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Bighat57
4.0 out of 5 stars A good biography of one of the Icons of the American ...
A good biography of one of the Icons of the American Frontier of the late 18th and early 19th century...
Published 1 month ago by J. Allison
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
What a disappointment. If you suffer from insomnia, this is your cure.
Published 1 month ago by Buckskins
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for a great summer read
Looking for a great summer read? Try Robert Morgan’s Boone: A Biography (Algonquin Books, ISBN 978-1-56512-615-2, $18.95). Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jeff Minick
4.0 out of 5 stars Much more than a Disney character
Interesting - a lot of things that I didn't know about this original American. His relationships with Native Americans and fellow frontiersmen was enlightening.
Published 1 month ago by Leboomer
5.0 out of 5 stars Way Beyond Fess Parker
As a child, Fess Parker's portrayal of Daniel Boone, became Daniel Boone for me. Half a century later, Robert Morgan has provided a much more nuanced portrait of Boone, warts and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Robert Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars epic
Very knowledgable author with great citations to this historical novel. Such a great adventure that he takes you on as if you were beside Boone the entire time
Published 3 months ago by Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, honest reading about Historical Figure
My husband and I both read he first book and decided this was the best of all the other "Daniel Boone" books we had read previously. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Emily B.
5.0 out of 5 stars A real man's book.
If you want to know what real men are like, just get this book and read. This shows just how tough our ancestors were. Read more
Published 4 months ago by pigskin
1.0 out of 5 stars Unnecessarily pornographic
The book is pretty good until Morgan decides to describe what can only be called pornography halfway through the book.
Published 4 months ago by Peter Kobilan
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