Cover Image: The Taking of Jemima Boone

The Taking of Jemima Boone

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This biography of the Daniel Boone family begins with the abduction of his 13 year old daughter, Jemima, by Shawnee Indians. Boone and a small group of frontiersmen track the Shawnee party for several days, aided by signs left on the trail by Jemima. The frontiersmen successfully rescue Jemima and two other girls abducted, but set in motion a conflict that continues for several years. The book centers around the exploits of Daniel Boone, but gives attention to the bravery and cunning of his daughter during the conflicts to come.
Boone himself was later captured by the Shawnee and adopted by the Chief Blackfish. Boone eventually escapes and returns to Boonesboro where Jemima has waited for his return, against all odds. Her assistance in the defense of Boonesboro against an overwhelming force of Indians points out the importance of brave women in the frontier.
This is not a complete biography of Daniel Boone or his daughter, but it fills in many gaps. It also focuses on the importance of women in the frontier and the disreputable treatment of the indigenous tribes. It is well researched but very readable.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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As a huge history fan, I was excited to read this first non-fiction work by Matthew Pearl. Although I had read The Last of the Mohicans in college, I had no idea that it was loosely based on Jemima Boone’s kidnapping, so I felt like I was going into reading this with no previous knowledge. 

Well written and fast paced, this is an excellent depiction of the conflicts between settlers and Native Americans and the fight to retain their land. The complex relationships that developed and conflicting emotions are also perfectly captured. 

Highly recommended for history buffs and fans of revolutionary war stories.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this free advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
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After recently reading the galley version of another book about Daniel Boone and his family, Blood and Treasure (reviewed in the last issue), I wasn’t at all sure I could “get into” this book. Boy, was I wrong!

Matthew Pearl takes the reader on quite a ride through early Kentucky history. While patriots were fighting hand-to-hand combat with the Redcoats, the “over the mountain” folks were fighting Indians, who many had been recruited by the British to wreak havoc on American expansion westward. The book’s central characters are Jemima Boone and her famous father Daniel. Pearl takes the reader through a series of life and nation-altering events, beginning with the kidnapping of young Jemima Boone in 1776, less than two weeks after the Declaration of Independence was signed.  

It was a harrowing time for Daniel Boone and his family. Following Jemima’s rescue tensions continued to escalate as the Revolutionary War heated up. Then, Daniel Boone himself was captured and adopted into Shawnee Chief Blackfish’s family. The story which follows after his escape and return to Boonesboro, highlights the challenges of living on the fringes of the eighteenth century American frontier as Boone and his fellow defenders hold back a days-long Indian attack.  

Even in its uncorrected form, the book is well organized and kept me riveted to the story. Another great Daniel Boone history book!
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• Thank you to Harper and NetGalley for providing this Advance Reading Copy. Expected publication date is October 5, 2021.

Did you know Daniel Boone‘s daughter was kidnapped? Well she was, in 1776 just after the signing of The Declaration of Independence. This is the true story of how that kidnapping occurred while Daniel Boone and his family were building a settlement in Kentucky. A Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party took Jemima Boone and two of her friends during a blood feud between American Indians and the colonial settlers. This book is a truly fascinating look at our young American history.

Since I’m from the Detroit area, I was particularly interested in the history behind the places and street names found in Michigan and the greater Detroit area.
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Great book on an aspect of history that is not well known. Most Americans are aware of Daniel Boone and his exploration of Kentucky, but few are aware of his daughter, Jemima and how she and her father were integral in helping the United States expand westward. Jemima's strength during his life is inspiring and is one of America's early strong female figures. Great read for those that love history.
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Well-known for his blockbuster historical fiction, Matthew Pearl offers his first nonfiction title in this dramatic and well-crafted account of the 1776 kidnapping of Daniel Boone’s daughter by a Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party and its aftermath. In addition to describing the events that preceded and followed the abduction, Pearl writes about the clashes of attitudes and cultures that led to them. The Taking of Jemima Boone is a gripping, beautifully told, and ultimately heartbreaking tale.
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Only vaguely familiar with Daniel Boone, I read this on a lark since I enjoyed one of Matthew Pearl's novels. I was blown away.

This is the history of the simultaneous barbarity and tragedy of manifest destiny, framed by the kidnapping of Jemima Boone, daughter of the famous settler. This is what good history for a general audience should do—not just an entertaining read (though it is) but heavy reliance on primary sources that illustrates the complexity of a situation and doesn't show a clear march to progress. I especially appreciated how Pearl emphasizes the critical role that settler women played. Pearl's commentary brings context and clarity that left me thinking long after I set it down. Contrast this to years of mind-numbing history courses that boiled the Revolutionary War down to battle after battle with little sense of why and how!

We also get far more about Cherokee-Shawnee social mores than I had expected, and it's a critical part of the story rather than one of those fluffy asides in a history textbook. Pearl's book left me with a profound sense of loss for what could have been— perhaps even Boonesboro as a fledgling example of Native Americans living in harmony with white settlers.

The book title and copy's focus on Jemima Boone is the only thing that gives me pause. I don't think the kidnapping is necessarily the truest beginning here (it's only, according to the description, "the latest salvo in the blood feud"), but it certainly captures attention. I think it says more about our prurient fixation on possible violence done to white unmarried women than anything else. I'm so glad that I picked up the book despite this.
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The American Revolution is a complex story in U.S. History.  It is unfortunate that most students will only have a cursory understanding of it by the time they graduate from high school.  Professional and amateur authors, historians, journalists and scholars are still finding new ways to write about the American Revolution almost 250 years after the watershed event.  Matthew Pearl is set to release his take on a pivotal, but not widely discussed, part of the Revolutionary War with his new book, The Taking of Jemima Boone: Colonial Settlers, Tribal Nations, and the Kidnap That Shaped a Nation.  It is hard to imagine how one kidnapping could shape a nation unless the victim had the last name Washington, but Pearl artfully makes his case.  

The truth of the matter is that while General and President George Washington are synonymous with the American founding, in different parts of the colonies he was not the most important  visible figure of the time.  Prominent local politicians, militiamen and settlers who are not commonly discussed in history texts were critical to the war effort and led the drive for independence.  Daniel Boone, a member of the local militia, was the pivotal figure that led Western expansion into lands currently known as Kentucky during the revolution.  

The Taking of Jemima Boone tells Daniel Boone’s incredible story which like many of the Founders includes triumphs and personal tragedies.  After losing his oldest son to the seemingly never ending war between American Indians and colonial settlers, Boone’s daughter Jemima is kidnapped with two young girls from their settlement, Boonesborough.  He leads a search party of men who are ultimately able to retrieve the girls, but not before Jemima develops a kind of rapport with her captors.  Daniel Boone and several men from the Boonesborough settlement would ultimately be captured by members of the same Shawnee tribe and the American Indians tried to assimilate them into their communities.  Some men would become members of the tribe in order to survive, others would run away, become prisoners of war, or be killed before ever seeing their families again.  

Pearl’s central argument is that life was complex on the American frontier.  The war between the Shawnee and Boonesborough settlers, which was egged on by the British looking to squash the rebellion, was not a black and white affair and some tribal leaders and Boone himself had hopes for a peaceful co-existence.  They both suffered incredible personal family loss and seemed to want an end to the bloodshed.  Unfortunately, as the closing battle scene plays out one realizes that there would be no peace between the two adversaries.  Even a war party three times the size of the settlers could not destroy the Boonesborough settlement, a sign of things to come.  

Pearl also highlights the role that colonial women like Jemima played in keeping settlements afloat.  After her father’s capture by the Shawnee, the brutality and harsh living conditions became too much for even her mother who returned to North Carolina to be closer to her family.  Jemima stayed and held out hope that her father was still alive and would one day return.  After Daniel Boone did return and they made one last stand against the Shawnee, only then did they rejoin her mother and eventually keep pushing West to Missouri where they would settle for the last time.  

The Taking of Jemima Boone is an excellent telling of a dynamic part of the American founding.  It is also particularly timely as audiences are craving different views about the Revolutionary War that go beyond the lives of key figures like George Washington and John Adams.  Pearl follows the current trend of providing a more well-rounded view of the dispute on the Western front by discussing the Patriot, Loyalist, and American Indian perspectives of the war.  The Taking of Jemima Boone publishes on October 5, 2021.   It can be pre-ordered on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.  

*This review is based on an advanced review copy provided by NetGalley.
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"The Taking of Jemima Boone" by Matthew Pearl is a fresh and exciting account of one of American history's heroes. Daniel Boone's legend had its own 1960's tv series, its own theme song, even its own Fes Parker-coonskin-hat-portrayal (somewhat blurred with a Davy Crockett model). Normally any revision to history reveals a crushingly disappointing picture of what really took place. Here some myths are vanquished but we see the real story never needed embellishments. 

Jemima Boone, Daniel's thirteen-year-old daughter, is presented as a gutsy three dimensional character-- a depiction of a female rarely shown in historical narratives. As the title implies, the center of the book revolves around her kidnapping by a group of American Indians. The domino effect of this event turns around the lives of the Boone family, the tribes, and the British army looking to squash the American presence in Kentucky. 

The cobwebs of stale history books are cleared off, bringing the frontier struggle alive. Daniel Boone is not a god, he is a leader struggling with his decisions he has to make. We also see Native American people with real emotions, real qualities, real flaws. This is so much more interesting than the cardboard character driven paint-by-number tall tales played on television reruns. 

Thank you to HarperCollins, NetGalley, and Matthew Pearl for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.   #TheTakingofJemimaBoone #NetGalley
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As a native Kentuckian, I grew up feeling that Daniel Boone was a sort of mythical hero. His statue graces the entrance to Louisville's scenic walking loop through one of the city's most beautiful parks. This book will not disabuse the reader of his near-hero status. He comes across as not only a master at reading nature, but also at reading people. When his daughter and her two friends are taken, as a sort of political leverage tool, he and some other men track them down over the course of days. Jemima and her friends are not portrayed as weak females, but as agents in their own discovery, leaving clues along the path. The rescue gets botched when one of the abductors, a chief's son, is killed. The author uses this one episode as a catalyst to explain the history of those pivotal few years at the start of the our nation's war for independence.. Later Boone himself is abducted, along with some of his men, as they painstakingly made salt by boiling down spring water until the minerals remained. In Boone's months-long absence, his settlement, Fort Boonesborough, falls into disarray and his wife leaves to return to family in the East. The author makes clear that if Boonesborough had fallen at that point to the British, it would have adversely affected the war for independence. There are a couple of things that really fascinated me about this book. One, the settlers were hardy people. From his descriptions of their lives, I think I would never have survived. Second, the settlers also come across as completely tone-deaf and shameful in their behavior toward the American Indians. He makes clear the differences in how the varied tribes perceived the threat the settlers represented. For some, there was a wish to live together peaceably, share the land, and intermarry. During Boone's own imprisonment, he was adopted as a son to replace the one who was killed. There was something so hauntingly poignant about the generosity of that outlook. The portrayal of the American Indians brings to mind another recent book, "Land" (Simon Winchester). European settlers felt the need to own the land and bend the land to their uses; the American Indians passed through the land, sharing it in common with their community. It is really a very different outlook. This is the author's first nonfiction book and with scenes painted with a novelist's eye, it is a pleasure to read.
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