“Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America’s First Frontier” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin; St. Martin’s Press (400 pages, $30).
Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, journalists both, have teamed up for a second time to bring us another historical documentary: Blood and Treasure. This book follows the life of the American folk hero Daniel Boone, who is best known for his exploration and settlement of what is now Kentucky. He led quite an exciting life, and was renown as a legend in his own time, then fondly remembered as a mythical hero well after his passing. Many stories have come to be told and written about him, both fictional and nonfictional. The authors have worked hard to separate the wheat from the chaff in order to share with us the true story of Mr. Daniel Boone.
During the mid-eighteenth century, what would become the United States that we know today was then only thirteen roughly formed rebellious colonies along the East Coast. Much of the North American continent was still unexplored, unknown territory to the colonists, who were desperate to expand and claim new resources for their hodgepodge nation that was currently on the verge of war with Great Britain.
Despite resistance from Native Americans, for whom Kentucky was a traditional hunting ground, in 1775 Boone blazed the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap and into Kentucky. There he founded Boonesborough, one of the first English-speaking settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains. By the end of the eighteenth century, more than 200,000 people had entered Kentucky by following the route marked by Daniel Boone.
Boone served as a militia officer during the Revolutionary War (1775–1783), which, in Kentucky, was fought primarily between settlers and British-allied Native Americans. Boone was captured by Shawnees in 1778 and adopted into the tribe, but escaped and continued to help defend the Kentucky settlements. He was elected to the first of his three terms in the Virginia General Assembly during the war, and fought in the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782, one of the last battles of the American Revolution. Boone worked as a surveyor and merchant after the war, but went deep into debt as a Kentucky land speculator. Frustrated with legal problems resulting from his land claims, in 1799 Boone resettled in Missouri, where he spent his last two decades.
Despite being a fan of history, Daniel Boone was someone I knew very little about aside from the basics I learned in high school. For me, this made for a particular interesting read, not only for learning more about Daniel himself, but also for learning more about the Native Americans of the Kentucky region, the bloody battles for territory of the time, as well as colonial life and the political intrigue of the eighteenth century’s Colonial America. The authors have written in a style that flows well from page to page in an engaging storytelling manner, though I do feel they get sidetracked from the titular Daniel Boone a bit too much as they zig zag through history. All the same, I’d very happily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys learning about American history from a modernized perspective!
Bob Drury, the recipient of several national journalism awards, is a three-time National Magazine Award finalist as well as a Pulitzer Prize nominee. Drury honed his investigative skills writing for all four New York City newspapers as well as a variety of national publications. His journalism career has arced from sports to crime to adventure travel to foreign correspondence. He is also the author, co-author, or editor of ten non-fiction books, including Valley Forge and Lucky 666.
Tom Clavin is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and has worked as a newspaper and web site editor, magazine writer, TV and radio commentator, and a reporter for The New York Times. He has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, and National Newspaper Association. His books include Halsey’s Typhoon and Wild Bill. He lives in Sag Harbor, NY.
Donavon Anderson is a Library Assistant in Reference at May Memorial Library. He can be reached at email@example.com.