Daniel Boone: The Opening of the Wilderness Critical Context - Essay

John Mason Brown

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

For decades, Brown’s study of Boone and the trek westward has been highly regarded by teachers, librarians, and students as a young adult classic. The book illuminates not only an important American life but also the crucial period during which people living on the Atlantic seaboard began to move west into Native American territory and into the chronicles of great historical events.

When Daniel Boone was written in 1952, many Americans were obsessed with recapturing a sense of the frontier experience, and this study fit in well with the times. It has retained its appeal, though some readers may find that Native Americans are too often portrayed as hateful savages of limited culture who seek to destroy clever, civilized white settlers. There is some of this stereotyping in Daniel Boone, but Brown tries to be evenhanded and usually succeeds.

Brown is not a propagandist, but a perceptive biographer trying to create the historical Daniel Boone, a man who comes close to perfection in the author’s mind. Given the wondrous adventures that Boone managed to fit into one lifetime, it is not surprising that he is shown to be something of a superhero. This book is a reliable, imaginatively written account of his life that remains a valuable resource for the young reader.