cHERE). He made it sound like a fine book, and I was anxious to read it. So I ordered a copy.
When it arrived, I was shocked at the size. I’m not sure how I pictured it, but I wasn’t expecting a deluxe hardcover the size of a big city phonebook!
Then I read it, and had still another revelation. You see, folks, this ain’t no ordinary history book. It’s a landmark in Crockett literature. Bottom line? This is the most important Crockett book to appear in over fifty years. I know, because aside from a handful of juvenile biographies and storybooks, I’ve read them all.
Wait! you say. Didn’t Crockett write an autobiography? Yes he did, sort of. And it’s a fine read. But he had help. It’s not pure Crockett, and it’s not always as factual as historians would like.
That autobiography was published in 1834, and for the next 122 years, biographers just rehashed the same information. James Atkins Shackford changed all that in 1956, with David Crockett: The Man and the Legend, opening up acres of new territory in Crockett’s life. Most important of these was Crockett’s political career. But while Shackford’s work on that period was groundbreaking, it left me wanting more. I kept expecting someone to dig into the original sources Shackford only alluded to and give us the whole story.
That’s what James Boylston and Allen Wiener have done, and the result is far more than I’d hoped for. The back half of the book delivers all the poop from those original sources - letters, circulars, newspaper articles, and the congressional record. Much of this stuff is in Crockett’s own unvarnished words (complete with lack of punctuation), taking us closer to the real man than we’ve ever been.
This is not the Davy we saw on the Disney show. This is the real guy, and we get to know him warts and all. The Crockett that emerges is a different kind of hero, the one hinted at in the book’s subtitle. Whatever troubles came his way (and they were many), Crockett never lost sight of his ideals, and truly was “the Poor Man’s Friend”.
Want more info before you buy? Visit the book’s official website HERE, or watch James and Allen’s 40-minute presentation at the Texas Book Festival, as broadcast by C-SPAN2, HERE.