Perhaps no other figure in American history is more shrouded in myth and legend than David ("Davy") Crockett, the Tennessee frontiersman whose death at the Alamo in 1836 ensured his place in the Valhalla of American heroes. Crockett himself was responsible for much of the folklore about his life. A gregarious, fun-loving man, he was more than capable of spinning tall tales over a "horn" of liquor. The truth of his life, as William Groneman emphasizes in this book, was far more...
Perhaps no other figure in American history is more shrouded in myth and legend than David ("Davy") Crockett, the Tennessee frontiersman whose death at the Alamo in 1836 ensured his place in the Valhalla of American heroes.
Crockett himself was responsible for much of the folklore about his life. A gregarious, fun-loving man, he was more than capable of spinning tall tales over a "horn" of liquor. The truth of his life, as William Groneman emphasizes in this book, was far more fascinating than the myth. David Crockett was a true self-made man who left home at the age of twelve. His adventures--hunting and exploring, serving as a soldier under Andrew Jackson in the Creek Indian War of 1813, a political career that took him to the United States Congress, an incessant search for "elbow room" that drew him to Texas-these were the real fabric of a heroic life.
In writing of the "historical Crockett," Groneman, a world authority on the Alamo and its defenders, dispels the myths to uncover the genuine hero. He writes at length of the defense of the Alamo, describes how Crockett's reputation and heroism have been tainted by revisionist historians, and presents new evidence that the Tennessean actually left the Alamo during the siege to bring in reinforcements. Although safely outside the walls, he fought his way back in to rejoin his friends for the final, fatal, battle.
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Longtime Crockett researcher Groneman cuts through the myth and legend to uncover as much as possible of the real Davy Crockett (1786-1836). What emerges is a fascinating look at a man who was a typical product of western Tennessee: a frontiersman with little formal education, skilled in hunting, always in debt, and always looking for more "elbow room" where he might achieve financial success. Groneman focuses considerable attention on two more remarkable aspects of Crockett's career: his three terms in the U.S. Congress, which made him a national figure, and his service at the Battle of the Alamo, where he was killed. In considering Crockett's death, Groneman's discussion is a bit dated, as he apparently did not have access to James Crisp's Sleuthing the Alamo (2004). Specialists will deplore the lack of notes, but general readers, high school students, and undergraduates will welcome this well-written biography as a good starting point for discovering Crockett as he really was. Recommended for public and undergraduate libraries.-Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Hero or opportunist? Rebel or terrorist? Did he even own a coonskin cap? Davy Crockett was an enigma in his own age-and certainly the right man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Retired New York City firefighter Groneman, a veteran of the 9/11 attacks, recognizes that a vast mythmaking enterprise underlay Davy Crockett's ascent to the status of cultural hero; one series, Davy Crockett's Almanacs, ran to 45 volumes "of increasingly violent tall tales" and was wildly successful, though, Groneman notes, Crockett made nothing from it. His elevation seems unlikely, for Crockett started off life under a father no more violent or drunk than most fathers on the Appalachian frontier, showed no more aptitude for hard work than any of his peers and commanded no more book-learning than a farmer or freighter or trapper. Still, he distinguished himself by a certain stoical unflappability under fire and good humor, which, witnesses recall, he put to good use during the defense of the Alamo, which sealed his reputation once and for all. The mythmaking, too, was a product of its time, for Crockett happened to come along just when the Founding Fathers were dying off and "the American identity was shifting from the Virginia aristocracy to the common man of the Western frontier." In this lean an lucid biography, Groneman portrays more of the complicated, haunted David Crockett that Billy Bob Thornton did in the 2004 film The Alamo than did Fess Parker in the 1950s. And as for the coonskin cap-yes, he wore one. A small survey of many virtues; it holds to the middle ground between hagiography and debunking, making allowances for Crockett's lapses into bad behavior while highlighting his better qualities.
William Groneman III, at the time of his retirement, was the company commander of Engine Company 308 and worked at Ground Zero just hours after the attack on the world Trade Center on September 11, 2001. A longtime student of the battle of the Alamo he has written books and articles exploring some of the myths and misconceptions of it.
Foreword Dale L. Walker 11
The Fifth Son 23
The Volunteer 41
The Gentleman from the Cane 61
Rebirth and Baptism 84
Congressman Crockett 89
The Lion of the West 100
Good Nonsense 113
Hell and Texas 126
With His Friends 139
The Alamo 146
Like a Hero 155
"No More to Be Seen in the Walks of Men" 164
The Sundering 176
The Symbol 184
Acknowledgments and Sources 191