Being from Berks County Pennsylvania, I am always interested in reading books about Daniel Boone. Boone was a native of Berks County and growing up we learned about him as a pioneer who helped open up the way to the “West” which is the time was West of the Allegheny mountains. We all familiar with the painting of Boone leading the settlers through the Cumberland Gap and into Kentucky. But there’s a lot more about Daniel Boone then being a pioneer, and this book does a wonderful job of telling us Boone’s story. Not just as a recitation of the history of Daniel Boone, but rather how he fit into and became part of the American Revolution and the development of the American West.
Contrary to many reviews, I didn’t find this a fast book to read. It was an interesting book, and the more I got into it the more I enjoyed it, but if you are looking for a fast paced story this is not what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a lot of great information about Daniel Boone, the American frontier, American Indians, the American Revolution, the French and Indian War, and so much more. At times the book is not for the faint hearted, because history is not always nice. There is a lot of recitation of deaths, slaughters, dismemberment, scalping and much more. This happened no matter who was involved, be it the American settlers, the British, French, or American Indians. It is an evenhanded look at what was going on in America during this period, and how Daniel Boone took his place as part of this.
The book is filled with stories of Daniel Boone and the legends that surround him, and at times the authors try to tamp down those legends because they aren’t verified by many people who were living at that time. On the other hand it also tells how Boone was instrumental in the development of the country. He began in Berks County Pennsylvania, eventually he and the family made their way down to the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. He also went down to the Panhandle of Florida and liked it so much he purchased land in what is now the Pensacola area. I had never knew that Boone had explored that far. He always came back home to North Carolina and from there he helped discover the pathway through the Allegheny Mountains which we now call the Cumberland Gap.
This book gives us a real sense of how the American Indians were used by all parties. Everybody wanted them as their ally. It began with the French and after their defeat in the French and Indian war, then the British curried their favor to fight against the American colonists. The Indians allegiances went back and forth as promises were made by each and every party, and we see how each and every party broke their promises to the American Indians. Boone was one of the great outdoorsman, a crack shot and really had no problem with The Indians, since from his youth he studied their ways, and learned from them. However, one way or another Boone became enmeshed in the border wars and battles. Did Boone kill the Indians? Yes. And did the Indians kidnap Daniel Boone and his daughter? Yes. Did the Indians kill his children and siblings? Yes, and this was all part of what was going on in the development of the nation. I got a feeling that Boone did not go out of his way to be a part of these battles, but at the same time would not shy away from a fight.
It is a fascinating look at Daniel Boone and the development of the early American West, with the beginning of the American Indian wars and how the actions in the frontier (in which Boone was a part of) played a big part in winning the Revolutionary War. This is a book that is definitely well researched, but is a little hard to read because the authors seem to enjoy using words that are not familiar to most of us. I don’t understand why they did that, but that is their prerogative. I think anyone who is a lover of history will enjoy this book and be fascinated at the stories that are told, the scope of the history and learning more about a man who most of us only know through a painting of him leading those settlers through the Cumberland Gap and into Kentucky.