Blood and Treasure

"Blood and Treasure"

 You're never going to find it.

Not easily, anyhow. You'll have to look in places where you wouldn't think it'd be, beneath, behind and beyond, left, right and in front of you. Don't give up, or you'll never discover what you're looking for. As in the new book "Blood and Treasure" by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, what you seek is waiting.

While today's pre-teen is often still closely watched by his parents when he leaves the house, 9-year-old Daniel Boone made his own weapon.

Tasked with watching his father's cattle, Boone would sneak off into the woods that ringed the animals' pasture, where he hunted small game with a rifle and the "war club" he'd made himself. Before he was a teenager, he'd learned that observing his prey could determine its habits, a skill that allowed him to regularly contribute to the Boone family's meals and supplies.

He was also a keen observer of the area's indigenous people who lived near the family farm in Pennsylvania. By watching them, he learned how to use plants as "potions and salves," how to make a waterproof raft, and how to tan the hides of the game he killed. These skills whetted Boone's wanderlust; that his entire family uprooted and moved to North Carolina underscored it further. By age 19, Boone had a "thirst for the ‘long hunt,’” an odious and dangerous live-off-the-land hunt that could last months; over time, his abilities gained him a reputation as an unbeatable marksman and, though not formally educated, possessor of a keen mind.

He also had a good imagination.

It was during his service in the French and Indian War that Boone learned about a place "the Shawnee called Kanta-ke and the Iroquois Ken-tah-ten,” a place that became a "magical kingdom" in his head. Its existence was only hinted-at, its location unknown but, for Boone, Kanta-ke and the “mysterious” Cumberland Gap that led to it became an obsession.

Here's something you'll want to know about this book: the first word in the title should be in neon. Yes, the mid-1700s weren’t all tea-and-crumpets but still, there's a lot of blood shed inside these pages and it most often comes with wincing descriptions of horrible torture and death.

The other thing you'll want to know is that authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin dive canyon-deep into their subject, which means that readers who lack at least a nodding acquaintance with 18th-century territories and pre-Revolution wars may be lost in quick order.

And yet, possessing a willingness to search for it, those who come to this book for Boone will be delighted. Drury and Clavin depict Daniel Boone as a charming rapscallion who gains awe from his friends and begrudging admiration from his foes; he's an easygoing man, quick with a grin, resourceful, and a joy to read about.

For that, for anyone who loves the adventurous side of American history, "Blood and Treasure" is a gem. It’s full of action, thorough and wide. Look for it. You'll find it.

“Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America’s First Frontier” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin (c. 2021, St. Martin’s Press, 400 pages) is $29.99 (US)/$39.99 (Canada).

TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER is owner of The Bookworm Sez, LLC. Reach her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

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