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)
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*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
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