Blood and Treasure ~ by Bob Drury, Tom Clavin

It’s a good thing I’m reading this because I’m one of those folks who would get Daniel Boone and Davy Crocket mixed up from time to time.  No more of that!  Daniel Boone was a real pre-Revolutionary War pioneer, helping small groups of settlers to get located in what was known as “wilderness.”  Meanwhile Davy Crockett was born in 1886, post-Revolution, and was more of a frontiersman, enjoying life in the wilds for its own sake.

Blood and Treasure 
by Bob Drury, Tom Clavin
2021 / 384 pages
Read by George Newburn, 11h 23m
Rating:8.75 / US history-biography 
(Both read and listened) 

That said,  it appears everything I learned about Boone or Crockett (the myths, I guess) from school, Disney or parents was skewed. The book Forget the Alamo: by Burrough, Tomlinson, and Stanford improved my knowledge about Crockett  (my review on site).  So now I could probably stand to read this book again – it’s surprisingly packed with information. It turns out that Daniel Boone was more than his wrongly debunked myth suggested, while Davy Crocked was somewhat less than his myth would have us believe.

Also,  I must say that this book is a rather literary rendering of the life of Daniel Boone.  Drury and Clavin use a traditional chronological structure,  but their vocabulary and syntax are a healthy step above the average history books I’ve read.  For instance: 

A frisson of excitement passed through the company when the imposing mountaintop outcropping of sandstone and conglomerate known as the White Rocks hove into view. Wilderness lore held that the pale cliffs, hanging in the sky like phantom drifts of snow, were only a day’s travel from the notch in the mountain.”  Page 126

I wanted something to follow up my reading of Fred Anderson’s brilliant Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America,  1754-1766” which was published in 2000, but is really excellent and it’s quoted in Blood and Treasure. That book ends with the colonies being a bit more solid and cohesive in their ideas of unity, but it also shows a less than glorious future for the Crown, even though they and the Colonies were supposedly one. The trouble was that the Brits couldn’t control the peace due to colonists’ determination to settle where they wanted, agreement or no.  The colonists felt they’d won, too, so the King couldn’t just bar them from the land the way the Proclamation of 1763 stated.

As the Anderson book ends, peace had been gained and the French had lost their rights to the land to the British who took over. But what about the Natives? On page 354 Drury and Clavin repeat the assertion that “Euro-Americans did wage a protracted war to conquer Indian nations to acquire their lands and its resources.” Protracted in this case means 300 years and I suppose that would be from 1619/20 (with the Puritans coming to Massachusetts and slaves/women/House of Burgesses introduced in Virginia) to 1918 (the last Indian battle) – or thereabouts.

Daniel Boone (1734-1820) lived right at this time. The French and Indian War started in 1754 and although it was mostly fought north of where Boone was, a lot of the issues between the British, French, and Indian interests were the same, to say nothing of those of the Colonists themselves. There were battles all up and down the East Coast west of the Appalachians and the Alleghenies from North Carolina to Canada.   

This book is full of detailed personal and historical information and  it’s well sourced, too and with additional footnotes. It’s a biography of Daniel Boone but there’s quite a lot about the era which could make a book of its own (and probably has). The Morovian Protestant denomination and the well documented massacre of them; 96 unarmed men, women and children were savagely killed. They were mostly Natives (Delawares) although not entirely, and their religion was somewhat like the Quakers. Now that massacre OF Indians was completely new to me.

And I’ve read that although beer was a staple in the colonies because the water was so bad and the beer so week. Ha! But okay, maybe in town or at home, but there were places (and Boone frequented a few) where the corn liquor was “ferociously potent” and readily available at the “pot and plank alehouses known as ‘ordinaries…’”. P 39 These were apparently willing to serve whomever came in with the cash. Somehow that tidbit just rings true.

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