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David Crockett: The Lion of the West Hardcover – May 16, 2011
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Wallis examination of the man behind the myth is both well written and engrossing. "
Michael Wallis is the master frontier story teller, having chronicled everything from Billy the Kid to Highway 66. Now he s told the tale of the real David Crockett as distinguished from the mostly mythical one. Davy (with a show biz y ) Crockett did, in fact, die at The Alamo but he did not kill a bear when he was only three or wear a coonskin cap except in publicity photographs. That s just for starters. But the truth has a way of being more interesting than the made-up, most particularly when in the talented writing mind and hands of Michael Wallis. --Jim Lehrer"
Like Crockett himself [Wallis] is a storyteller. The man who emerges from these pages is vivid, comprehensible, and, in the main, historically reliable. On a subject that has come to be dominated by acrimonious debate and posturing, such serenity has a lot to recommend it. "
About the Author
Michael Wallis, the best-selling author of Route 66 and Billy the Kid, has published eighteen books and won numerous honors and awards. He is a popular public speaker and a highly acclaimed voice actor. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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Having grown in up Texas, I've heard David (or Davy) Crockett's name mentioned for decades, and vaguely known of his connection with the Alamo, as well as a being the namesake for a town and state park. But his life has always been a mystery to me.
This book splendidly fills in all of the details I was curious about. The books starts out with a wonderful introduction as to the author and his early fascination with David Crockett (or more exactly, the legendary, fictionalized Davy Crockett), which makes for a wonderful connection between author and subject. Wallis proceeds with the background information as to David's parents and ancestors coming to America.
The majority of the book follows Crockett as he continues to grow, explore, and learn. The traits that made him a self-made man show a large contrast with Americans in modern times. It is fascinating jumping back in time to see how people lived in those times, in that region of the country. Also interesting are the details of the various locations that Crockett lived within Tennessee. I was very surprised that he lived nearly his whole life (99%) in Tennessee. Of his fourty-nine years of life, only a few months were in Texas. It must have been incredulous to his family and friends that his end should come in such an unusual location and event.
Reading other reviews, I was struck that a few that gave this book low points. Those that found it boring or "tepid" must be looking for the overblown, sensationalized versions of Davy Crockett that have mislead people for generations. We certainly don't need any more of that junk. Thank goodness Wallis stayed away from that. As Jim Lehrer writes in his review on the back of the book, the truth really has a way of "being more interesting that the made up".
As a book lover and huge fan of biographies and American history, I see no wrong whatsoever in this book. It's just too bad that this wasn't written decades ago. Better late than never!
P.S. For those that enjoy this book, I recommend another great biography of a contemporary and late friend of Crockett: Sam Houston (by James L. Haley). Houston also had experiences in Tennessee (the frontier, experiences with indians, political office, etc.) and occasionally crossed paths with Crockett.