I’ve just finished reading Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan. It was our book club selection for January. I see why this work is so highly praised. Morgan’s talent for prose and attention to detail is stunning. Boone puts flesh and bones onto the myth of this American hero.
While reading the 400-plus page tome, I couldn’t help but envision Fess Parker and hear the TV theme song. “From the coonskin cap on the top of old Dan to the heel of his rawhide shoes…” The problem with the song and popularized image is that Boone never wore coonskin caps. He preferred beaver hats. That’s just one of many myths Morgan explodes in this landmark work.
Boone reads like a novel–a comfortable task for Morgan who has brought us such best-sellers as The Truest Pleasure, Gap Creek and This Rock. Some readers say that it’s OK to run fast and loose with the facts when it’s “fiction.” I disagree. Good storytelling must connect with deeper truths. If a novelist sets a story within historical time and place, it behooves him or her to get it right. After all, it is the writer who has chosen that setting. The Internet makes that task so much easier today and those such as Morgan, who do such a masterful job of historical fiction–and non-fiction–are ones to emulate.