"With Mr. Morgan as biographer, Boone definitely lucked out...Stunning." — The Dallas Morning News
"The flesh-and-blood Boone who emerges is vivid and rare, a far cry from the enigmatic icon. This is historical biography at its best."—St. Louis Dispatch
"Boone has been thought by many to be virtually a fictional character, subject of tall tales like Mike Fink the Keelboatman, or even Paul Bunyan," and it is "hard to rescue figures like Daniel Boone and Johnny Appleseed from the distortions of television and Walt Disney." Morgan's biography is just such a rescue job, and a wholly successful one. It is a trifle too long… but the thoroughness and authority of Boone: A Biography are beyond dispute. Though there have been many biographies of Boonemost recently, Michael A. Lofaro's well-received Daniel Boone: An American Life (2003)this one strikes me as ideally suited to today's reader with its vivid descriptive passages (Morgan is, after all, a novelist and poet), its persuasive portrait of Boone and its firm sense of his place in American history.
The Washington Post
Many historical figures are more interesting in reality than in myth. Daniel Boone was one of them. Brilliant explorer, trapper and pathfinder, renowned marksman and revolutionary militia officer, he was also a loner, parent, legislator, settler and failed speculator. Poet and fiction writer Morgan (Gap Creek) portrays Boone in lively prose but also in excessive detail. Must we know of Boone's life week by week or of favored Shawnee coital positions? And must he give us references to Emerson, Thoreau and Faulkner? Morgan is a trustworthy, up-to-date authority who needs no support from others. Boone comes fully alive in his pages. Morgan's objectivity gives us a completely realized man, the greatest pioneer of the Trans-Appalachian west, who helped open Kentucky to settlement but kept going, settling eventually in Missouri. His luck was as legendary as his deeds, given what he seems to have escaped. Yet Morgan skillfully assesses and often questions the validity of all the tales of good fortune and heroism attached to Boone. Most appealing today, Boone was deeply respectful of the native tribes, a respect returned by the Indians, many of whom he befriended even when he was in conflict with them. If only others had possessed his wisdom and character. Illus., maps. (Oct. 16)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Poet and novelist Morgan (English, Cornell Univ.; Gap Creek) steps away from his historical fiction to provide a beautifully written biography of American scout Daniel Boone as a frontier Moses, leading his people over the western mountains to the rich promised lands of Kentucky. Boone's personal motivations are explored by emphasizing his Quaker family roots-and the later influence of Masonry-within the larger context of a frontier society swirling with political revolution and wilderness wars that eventually displaced many of the American Indian nations with which Boone sympathized. His treatment of Boone attempts a more personalized and popular view than John Mack Faragher's classic Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneeryet is still extensively footnoted. Morgan ends by examining how Boone's legend as a heroic scout influenced writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and James Fenimore Cooper, among many others. Strongly recommended for academic, public, and high school libraries with U.S. history collections.
Nathan E. Bender
Daniel Boone didn't wear a coonskin cap. He liked to read. He wasn't particularly murderous. So much for American myths. Morgan (Brave Enemies, 2003, etc.) risks being overshadowed by John Mack Faragher's Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer (1992), which is much stronger, especially on Boone's significance as a Rousseauvian man of nature. Yet Morgan is an able storyteller with a fine appreciation for Boone as a man of action-and a man of his times. Boone entered history as one of the teamsters accompanying General Edward Braddock's ill-fated campaign to attack the French in Ohio, which ended in a battle that catapulted another American on the scene, George Washington, to fame. The British were routed. "To save himself," writes Morgan, "young Boone cut his horses loose and rode after the fleeing troops." It would not be the last time that Boone would decide that withdrawal was the better part of valor, a strategic sensibility that saved his neck on the Kentucky frontier, where he became a skilled diplomat working among many Indian nations while earning a fair income gathering ginseng. Boone had solid leadership skills, as commemorated in George Caleb Bingham's iconic portrait of Boone leading wary settlers through the Cumberland Gap. Though a frontiersman suspicious of customary authority, he also commanded respect among the military. Court-martialed after a disastrous battle against the British and their Shawnee allies during the Revolutionary War, Boone emerged both exonerated and promoted. (To spite his accuser, though, he moved out of the town named for him, Boonesborough.) He would later be accused of dishonest surveying and other misdemeanors, charges that,Morgan writes, had some basis in carelessness but not in malice. Such dealings with his fellow Americans, however, inclined Boone not to have much to do with them-and thus he pressed ever onward, away from their smoking chimneys over a long lifetime. A welcome re-evaluation of an American legend. Agent: Liz Darhansoff/Darhansoff, Verrill & Feldman
"[An] absorbing and stirring chronicle of the great frontiersman....Outstanding."
—Booklist, starred review
"The thoroughness and authority of Boone are beyond dispute. Though there have been many biographies of Boone...this one strikes me as ideally suited to today's reader with its vivid descriptive passages (Morgan is, after all, a novelist and poet), its persuasive portrait of Boone and its firm sense of his place in American history."—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World
"[A] revelatory biography. . . . What Morgan has done with his Boone is to make the man important as an entry point for today’s readers into what has become legend."—The Boston Globe
"From the crisp first sentence 'Forget the coonskin cap; he never wore one' novelist Morgan (Gap Creek) stakes a fresh claim on the life of famed 18th-century frontiersman Daniel Boone. In this long, passionate, and authoritative bio, Morgan traces Boone's 'fiddle-footed' ancestors from Quaker England to Pennsylvania, sorts out the myths and half-truths surrounding his exploits, and analyzes his legacy. The man that emerges is unschooled yet brilliant, a genius at negotiating with the Indians and reading the wilderness, though, tragically, a complete failure at prospering in the white settlements he helped to found. B+"Entertainment Weekly
"Boone is an excellent biography based on a mountain of research. Robert Morgan . . . is exactly the writer to produce this inquisitive study. Morgan's venerable career in fiction has served him well in his understanding of Boone's multifaceted persona and in his understanding of the expansion of the young republic." Roanoke Times