Book Review: Boone, A Biography by Robert Morgan

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Published by Shannon Ravenel Book, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill in 2007
Non-fiction/American History/The Old West/Frontier
538 pages

Daniel Boone did not really wear a coonskin hat, he wore a beaver felt hat in order to keep the sun and rain off of his head. He was a gypsy, nomadic in lifestyle, often gone for long periods of time, so long that his wife thought he might have been dead. He had a happy easy going personality, disliked fighting and arguments. When the fall of the year would come his heart drove him to the woods to hunt and trap. Just as a poet is led to write poetry, Daniel Boone was driven to roam the forests in search of game or new land.
Daniel Boone for my generation knew him through a weekly television show created in the 1960's. The shows song became apart of those jingles that stay with you, that are apart of the nostalgia from growing up.
The real Daniel Boone does not match the Hollywood version. Robert Morgan's detailed book works to debunk many of the myths and legends that Hollywood and previous writer's have instilled in the public.
The Daniel Boone of history was born in Pennsylvania in 1734. His parents were Quakers. His father's family was from England and his mother was a Morgan from Wales. Daniel's appearance and personality was more like his mother. He was tall, dark haired, and had a happy easy going personality. Even as a young boy he would be gone for hours or overnight in the woods. Even as a young man he was an excellent marksman, trapper, hunter. For Daniel Boone the woods were his church, his sanctuary. When still a young man he met the young and beautiful Rebecca Bryan. They would marry and eventually have 10 children, including several nieces and nephews that came to live with them. Rebecca would be the full parent in the relationship, Daniel was gone more often than he was home. Daniel was a scout and land surveyor. He tried his hand at owning a tavern and store, also farming; but he was never satisfied unless he was in the woods. He spent most of his adult life in debt, only at the end were those debts rectified.
In my opinion Hollywood and other writer's did not need to change up Daniel Boone's story, nor glamorize him. He "lived" a life of radical adventure.

When I began reading this book I wondered how long it would take me to read it, at 538 pages it is not a minuscule read. I read it in 4 days.
I also wondered if the authors detailed almost college course education on Daniel Boone would be exhausting to me. I was propelled to continue reading because of the entertainment of it. Another words Daniel Boone was not a historical figure written about on white pages in black ink--rather dry and anemic. Robert Morgan gave a well-rounded convincing image to me of Daniel Boone, he is not described singularly as heroic nor cavalier, but a blend of personality and action that gave him an earthy quality.
At the end of his life he was surrounded by his beloved family that he had no qualms or indifference's with.
To me Daniel Boone was a remarkable individual, human with faults as we all have, yet remarkable in his legacy as a frontiersman.

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  1. "Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee..." --now I'll be having that theme song in my head all day!

    Loved your review and glad to hear that the bio held your interest so well. I really enjoy bios myself so will be adding this one to my list.


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