Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Trailblazing Life of Daniel Boone

The Trailblazing Life of Daniel Boone: and how early Americans took to the road
, painstakinglyl written and illustrated by Cheryl Harness, National Geographic Society, 2007

For folks a certain age, there is a fair amount of confusion between Daniel Boone and another American iconn, Davy Crockett, due to the late 1960s television program about Boone which starred Fess Parker (a.k.a. Davy Crockett. ) The TV folks clapped a coonskin cap on Daniel (no doubt trying to tie-in to the success of Parker's earlier series) and forever melded the two men in the mind of a generation.

Harness takes-on that issue early in the book by describing Boone's headgear.

...some frontier folks like the look of a jaunty striped tail, dangling from the back of a "coonskin" cap, but not Daniel. He generally wore a wide-brimmed felt hat.

She includes a full page illustration of Daniel with his gear, powder horn, tomahawk, buckskins britches, leggins etc. all clearly labeled. Life on the Kentucky and Missouri frontier is richly described with its need for self-reliance, the brutal Indian wars, hunting and trapping, pelt theft, and land disputes . Daniel and his family scratched out a living on the outposts of civilization and held on to that life tenaciously. At one point the Shawnee kidnapped Boone and held him so long that his wife Rebecca thought he was dead.

The fragility of human life in the wilderness is underscored by a poignant story of Daniel's brother in law, John Stewart who disappeared while hunting. His body was found years later only identifiable by his powder horn carved with the initials J.S.

I enjoy the style of Cheryl Harness's books. She provides a very high rate of information per square inch through her use of engaging artwork and text. A timeline of world events runs across the bottom of each page. I loved knowing that while Daniel was trapping for pelts in the wild, Handel was composing "Music for the Royal Fireworks." There is also an excellent list of resources, other reading, "places well worth visiting" and an index. Harness also describes the process she uses to create the pen and ink pictures through out the book.

Daniel Boone's life is the stuff of legends and this book tells his story in the context of the times with depth and detail.

1 comment:

Ladytink_534 said...

There are so many interesting books by Harness! I'd like to read Rabble Rousers: Twenty American Women Who Made a Difference: Twenty American Women Who Made a Difference and Remember the Ladies: 100 Great American Women.