Reviewed: “Daniel Boone” by Reuben Gold Thwaites

I have a thing for old books, I may have mentioned that on this blog at some point. The older the book, the better. I don’t go for the mint condition, afraid to touch it books either. I prefer books that have obviously be read and loved by who knows how many people.

So, when my mother went antique shopping with my sister and brought me back a 1902 first edition of Daniel Boone by Reuben Gold Thwaites, I was very happy.

Part of that has to do with the fact that I love history, and that probably has a lot to do with my love of anything pre-1925 – like books.

But now, to the book.

What amazed me most about this biography of one of America’s earliest heroes was how many of the things I thought I knew were wrong. I blame Hollywood.

For example, the theme song to the “Daniel Boone” television show pays homage to the “coonskin cap on the top of ol’ Dan.” Daniel Boone never wore a coonskin cap, even though many people in the time and place he lived did. In fact, he detested coonskin caps. Leave it to Hollywood to decide that a coonskin cap said ‘mountain man’ better than anything. However, in Hollywood’s defense, even Thwaites points out that a lot of the incorrect myths about Boone come from the so-called autobiographies that were actually written by John Filson and Timothy Flint, both of whom interviewed Boone and then took artistic license to the limit. That’s how Daniel Boone came to fight a bear hand-to-hand and morph into Tarzan as he swung from vines to evade Indians.

Thwaites portrayal of Boone is one of a man who had a never ending wanderlust. In a way, he became the defintion of America.

I would have hated to be his family, considering he left them for years at a time, but being a part of that even just for a little while would have been amazing. That’s what this 1902 book taught me.

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