1940: Daniel Boone (a lanky son of democracy or so I’m told)


Sally’s Rating: 1/5

Daniel Boone by James Daugherty was a complete failure on every level. It was essentially a travelogue and list of battles masquerading as a children’s book. Daugherty’s tribute to the American pioneer laughably seeks to elevate Daniel Boone to the position of infallible and invincible hero.

Daniel Boone is so pro-American that it is hard to take him seriously. While we get to know about the various battles he was involved in, I feel that we hardly got to know the man himself. Some events were glossed over in a sentence or two while others took whole chapters to cover. For example, at one point, he gets captured by some Indians and the situation looks dire, but one paragraph later he escapes and saves the day. Additionally, while multiple pages cover his animal hunting exploits, his marriage is pretty much skipped over entirely, leaving his personal life still shrouded in mystery at the end of the book.

The stereotypes and racism were very overt and off-putting. Daniel Boone is perceived as the hero while the American Indians got atrocious treatment by this author. Lacking any characterization beyond “savage” and “the enemy,” the author’s bias of the Indian-American conflict makes this book’s historical value feel cheapened.

The illustrations, or lithographs in this case, in Daniel Boone were kind of disturbing. Almost mural-like in style, their depiction of the fighting between Boone and the Indians ended up looking more like a bunch of manly men just trying to dogpile on top of one another.

“The life of a pioneer family was a comic-tragic drama of struggle and violence,” writes Daugherty. Well, this account lacked the comedy and drama of an interesting biography and leaves us only with a tragic travesty of one man’s belief in the indomitable pioneer spirit.


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