Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan

Boone: a Biography is well researched and well written, by a poet and novelist. The author, Robert Morgan, a native North Carolinian, became interested in Daniel Boone (who came of age in North Carolina) when he wanted to write a poem about the intersection of Native Americans and Colonial American cultures. That interest morphed into Morgan’s first work of non-fiction.

Boone was nicknamed the “Columbus of the Woods”. Lord Byron writes of Boone in his epic poem “Don Juan”. Parts of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans are based on Boone’s experiences.

Morgan demystifies Boone, the prototypical American folk hero. Far more than a frontiersman, Daniel Boone was at times a hunter, trapper, explorer, land speculator, debtor, surveyor, elected politician, horse trader, and tavern keeper. He served in the French and Indian War, the Seven Years War, the Cherokee Uprising, Dunmore’s War, the Revolutionary War, and the Northwest Indian War. All of this is explored in Morgan’s biography of Daniel Boone, while chronicling America’s westward expansion.

Most interesting though, and back to the author’s motivations, is Morgan’s focus on Boone’s relations with Native Americans. Boone was raised a Quaker and sought to befriend Native Americans all of his life. This was in spite of many encounters that were tragic. The book documents the manipulations of Native Americans, by the French and the British, to make war with settlers, first in the French and Indian War and then in the American Revolution. Perhaps without that manipulation, relations between the cultures might have been very different.

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