Dee Brown Margaret Wallace - Essay

Margaret Wallace

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

This intelligent and totally unpretentious novel, "Wave the High Banner," contains, so far as the knowledge of the present reviewer runs, the first full-length portrait in fiction of Davy Crockett. "Wave High the Banner" is a novel, in the sense that fact and invention are discreetly combined to suit the purposes of the story teller. But Dee Brown has given us what must be accounted, nevertheless, an exceptionally shrewd and just evaluation of a picturesque frontiersman who has been left until now to the writers of juvenile thrillers….

"Wave High the Banner" is a simple and straightforward chronicle of Crockett's life, written without any self-conscious grace of manner or any obvious effort to put into the story more significance than it rightfully contains. It is told in an idiom not far removed from that which Crockett himself might have commanded. Where invention was needed to supply missing chapters in Crockett's career, it has been kept in strict accord with the probabilities. Dialogue and details of background are uniformly excellent.

While Dee Brown has resisted, better than many novelists at the moment, the temptation to overwrite Crockett's story or to point by means of it a contemporary moral, the moral is there for any one who cares to read it. It goes without saying that a chronicle which ends at the siege of the Alamo can hardly be lacking in pertinence or dramatic intensity. While it is not, perhaps, a novel of great distinction, "Wave High the Banner" is a sound and honest and well-considered piece of work, entirely worthy of its subject.

Margaret Wallace, "Davy Crockett," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1942 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), May 3, 1942, p. 16.