Top critical review
Very Disappointed in the Laziness with Research (Using Old Gossip to Create a "Juicy" Read)
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 4, 2021
Any good reviews about this book appear to be from people who, sadly, want a juicy read and do not want to actually delve into the history. If you do care about our country's history--good and bad--then do your due diligence and look to books where authors actually take the time to research. In the amount of time it will take me to write this review, I have already done more research than these "authors" appear to have done. Do Drury and Clavin dislike Daniel Boone? I can't help but think so based on their asleep at the wheel "research" on well-documented historic facts.
I had high hopes for this book being a history geek--especially with U.S. History. As soon as I came across the chapter titled "Boone's Surprise" I was wary to read it, assuming the authors were going to touch upon the old unproven gossip about Daniel Boone not being Jemima Boone's father. For anyone who has thoroughly studied Boone's life, you will see that similar rumors were said about other children of his. Boone was a complex personality and had made some enemies during his life, and back then before the days of the internet and public relations, an easy way to attack someone was by creating malicious gossip.
Andrew Jackson experienced with gossip about his wife. Study history and you'll see that a common way to attack a man of prominence was to attack his wife by pinning the guy as a cuckold. That's where my comparisons about Jackson and Boone will end, though.
Anyway, from a pair of authors who supposedly are experts in history, it is very sad that if they were going to beat a dead horse of an old false story, they did not bother to do their research. (Heck, even just spend a few minutes on Google to look up documented facts and dates.)
Quote from the book: "When [Daniel] Boone asked Rebecca about the girl's [Jemima's] father, his wife tearfully explained that she had thought Boone dead, and in her grief had relied upon his younger brother Edward, called Neddie, for comfort and solace. Neddie was unmarried, and though a studious sort more at home carrying a Bible or a farmer's hoe than a rifle, he bore a striking physical and facial resemblance to Daniel."
The truth (easily backed up by facts and documentation found online): Edward "Neddie" Boone was NOT "unmarried" when Daniel's daughter Jemima was conceived and born.
Jemima was born Oct. 4th, 1762.
Edward married his wife Martha Bryan--a sister of Daniel's wife--in 1759. They then had daughters Charity Boone (born Oct. 1760) and Jane Boone (born Sept. 18, 1762--close to when Jemima was born). So, Edward/"Neddie" was already married for 3 years with 2 children when Jemima was born--not "unmarried" and itchin' to hook up with his also married sister-in-law who had children already, as well. Plus, Jemima was born close to when Edward's daughter Jane was born. Would a man supposedly as pious as Edward really hook up with his sister-in-law while he was also obviously getting some frontier nookie from his wife?
The only citations that these authors reference in relation to the rumor of Daniel not fathering Jemima are a line or two from Daniel Faragher's Boone biography, however, Faragher's book was published in the 1990s--wayyyyy long after these events would have happened. Plus, Faragher admits in his book that any references to the rumor were "whispers" from others and Faragher even admits in his book that "none of these stories, of course, can be taken as gospel" (Faragher, p. 59). For Drury and Clavin to twist Faragher's casual mention of old frontier gossip (that Faragher, himself, dispels) and use it to make Boone's settlement look like some swingers club is self-serving writing that does no favors for true history readers. The old story was used way back when to make Boone and others on the frontier look like uncivilized, immoral country rubes. It is sad that Drury and Clavin use Boone's name on the cover of this book to sell it but then can't be bothered to do basic research about the man and his family.
How did the authors drop the ball on doing some quick research? (They didn't bother to note that Daniel's brother's wife was also a sister of Rebecca Boone's--an important element to know, and info easy to find in books and the internet.) This one glaring lapse in presenting truth just left a bad taste and now it's hard to not question the authors' expertise in the rest of this book, as well as their fact-checking in other books that they've published.
During his life, Daniel was pinned by some who disliked him as a "Loyalist" and "traitor." Daniel was accused of treason by a relative through marriage (the uncle of son-in-law Flanders Callaway--who was married to, guess who: Jemima Boone). They accused Boone of conspiring with both the British and local tribes in the area. Boone, however, proved the accusations to be false, and rather than be court-martialed, he was actually promoted. So, false gossip about his family members back then was another way to attack the man's character.
Other than that quick research, another big reason why the "not the father" story really doesn't belong in a "History" book: it's never been documented or confirmed by contemporary evidence nor family recollection. If you read Lyman Draper's interview transcripts with Daniel's youngest son Nathan Boone, there is no mention of Jemima's father being anyone other than Daniel. Nathan even talks about how Jemima called Daniel "daddy." Also, if you read more about Daniel and Jemima's lives, you'll see that they had a very strong parent/child relationship--some would even say that she was his favorite child. Why didn't the authors address any of these points?
Also, there is documentation with how a peace treaty with the Cherokee was agreed upon while Daniel was serving under Col. Waddell. (It was signed Nov. 19, 1761, which would have been around the time Daniel was free to return to his family.) Factoring in Jemima's birthdate (Oct. 4, 1762), Daniel would have had sufficient time to have returned home to Rebecca to conceive Jemima. In fact, similar rumors about Daniel not being the father of other children of his had popped up after his death--same rumor, different child, different period away from home. Jemima happened to be his most famous child because of the well-known kidnapping event, so that might be why she is the most popular subject of the rumor.
Sorry to go on about this, but as a history buff I am just floored that the authors couldn't even accomplish a 5 minute Google search to see Edward Boone's family tree and put an old nasty rumor to rest and instead use falsehoods to sell a book. Is this an issue of The Enquirer or is this a history book? My unintentional rant is in the hopes that others read this and realize that this book is more fiction than fact.
For a more factual read, try "The Taking of Jemima Boone" by Matthew Pearl or "In the Footsteps of Daniel Boone" by Randell Jones just to name a couple of books where these authors have spoken about their desire to delve into the research, to reveal as honest and complete of a portrait of Boone as an author can.
The true facts are exciting enough--why waste pages rehashing false stories? I would have more respect for the authors if they had included research to show why the old rumor was just that. Books like this are part of the reason why we lose our connection to our country's history. People like David McCullough can show these "authors" how it's done: how to write exciting and factual history books, referencing contemporary sources and solid proof. Save your money and skip this book.