Friday, July 29, 2016

Cephalopod Coffeehouse July 2016: Daniel Boone

I'm rejoining the Cephalopod Coffeehouse bloggers book club this month to briefly talk about Daniel Boone.  Boone was a famous frontiersman, and as such was fairly landlocked, so unlike myself he probably would never have encountered squids.  A pity.

book: Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer
author: John Mack Faragher

In recent years, while living in Maine, I was able to watch MeTV, a channel dedicated to broadcasting old TV shows, on a fairly regular basis (it was something of a family mandate), and as such became acquainted with the 1964-1970 Daniel Boone series, which featured Fess Parker somewhat famously reprising his earlier role of...Davy Crockett.  It was about as reliable a source of real history as you could expect, but really, it was also about as accurate to the pop culture impression of Boone as has existed since Boone's own time.

When I came across Faragher's book, it was one of those moments of destiny.  I knew more about Crockett than Boone, and although I'm pretty sure I never made the mistake of failing to tell them apart, I wasn't as familiar with Boone as I could have been, so I was eager to read the book for that reason alone.

Usually, or at least lately, it takes me an average of two weeks or less to read a book, but this one took longer.  Faragher's work is concise but it's also fairly intense, which is to say somewhat dense.  It's a wonderfully full portrait of the man behind the myth, as well as how the myth itself began.  In fact, Faragher covers just about every aspect of Boone's legacy, down to the ugly struggles over his remains, and where they ought to be buried (Kentucky won out, eventually, despite the fact that Boone died leaving explicit instructions, and a glowering discontent over how the state he helped found ended up treating him).

As an amateur historian, books like this are like kitty litter to me.  And so I can say, Fess Parker's Boone was definitely not the real Boone.  But the show still had a heck of a catchy theme song.


  1. I definitely tend to confuse Boone and Crockett. I do always remember that it was Crockett who died at the Alamo. The visual of a frontiersman in a coonskin cap works so well for both. Suffice to say, I know little about either. Glad to know you found this book informative.

    1. Funny how history works sometimes...Boone despised coonskin caps. But the tales started having him wear them, and so that's why Crockett wore them...

    2. Funny connection between the two!


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