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The Taking of Jemima Boone: The True Story of the Kidnap and Rescue That Shaped America

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On a quiet midsummer day in 1776, weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, thirteen-year-old Jemima Boone and her friends Betsy and Fanny Callaway disappear near the Kentucky settlement of Boonesboro, the echoes of their faraway screams lingering on the air. A Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party has taken the girls as the latest salvo in the blood feud between On a quiet midsummer day in 1776, weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, thirteen-year-old Jemima Boone and her friends Betsy and Fanny Callaway disappear near the Kentucky settlement of Boonesboro, the echoes of their faraway screams lingering on the air. A Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party has taken the girls as the latest salvo in the blood feud between American Indians and the colonial settlers who have decimated native lands and resources. Hanging Maw, the raiders’ leader, recognizes one of the captives as Jemima Boone, daughter of Kentucky's most influential pioneers, and realizes she could be a valuable pawn in the battle to drive the colonists out of the contested Kentucky territory for good. With Daniel Boone and his posse in pursuit, Hanging Maw devises a plan that could ultimately bring greater peace both to the tribes and the colonists. But after the girls find clever ways to create a trail of clues, the raiding party is ambushed by Boone and the rescuers in a battle with reverberations that nobody could predict. As Matthew Pearl reveals, the exciting story of Jemima Boone’s kidnapping vividly illuminates the early days of America’s westward expansion, and the violent and tragic clashes across cultural lines that ensue. In this enthralling narrative in the tradition of Candice Millard and David Grann, Matthew Pearl unearths a forgotten and dramatic series of events from early in the Revolutionary War that opens a window into America’s transition from colony to nation, with the heavy moral costs incurred amid shocking new alliances and betrayals.


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On a quiet midsummer day in 1776, weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, thirteen-year-old Jemima Boone and her friends Betsy and Fanny Callaway disappear near the Kentucky settlement of Boonesboro, the echoes of their faraway screams lingering on the air. A Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party has taken the girls as the latest salvo in the blood feud between On a quiet midsummer day in 1776, weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, thirteen-year-old Jemima Boone and her friends Betsy and Fanny Callaway disappear near the Kentucky settlement of Boonesboro, the echoes of their faraway screams lingering on the air. A Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party has taken the girls as the latest salvo in the blood feud between American Indians and the colonial settlers who have decimated native lands and resources. Hanging Maw, the raiders’ leader, recognizes one of the captives as Jemima Boone, daughter of Kentucky's most influential pioneers, and realizes she could be a valuable pawn in the battle to drive the colonists out of the contested Kentucky territory for good. With Daniel Boone and his posse in pursuit, Hanging Maw devises a plan that could ultimately bring greater peace both to the tribes and the colonists. But after the girls find clever ways to create a trail of clues, the raiding party is ambushed by Boone and the rescuers in a battle with reverberations that nobody could predict. As Matthew Pearl reveals, the exciting story of Jemima Boone’s kidnapping vividly illuminates the early days of America’s westward expansion, and the violent and tragic clashes across cultural lines that ensue. In this enthralling narrative in the tradition of Candice Millard and David Grann, Matthew Pearl unearths a forgotten and dramatic series of events from early in the Revolutionary War that opens a window into America’s transition from colony to nation, with the heavy moral costs incurred amid shocking new alliances and betrayals.

30 review for The Taking of Jemima Boone: The True Story of the Kidnap and Rescue That Shaped America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    At about the same time that the Declaration of Independence was being signed, three young girls were kidnapped by American Indians near the Boonesboro, the first established settlement in Kentucky territory. One of those young women was Jemima Boone, the 13-year-old daughter of Daniel and Rebecca Boone. Yes, that Daniel Boone. This book not only tells the story of the events surrounding the rescue of those three girls, but also demonstrates the pivotal nature this event had in the formation of t At about the same time that the Declaration of Independence was being signed, three young girls were kidnapped by American Indians near the Boonesboro, the first established settlement in Kentucky territory. One of those young women was Jemima Boone, the 13-year-old daughter of Daniel and Rebecca Boone. Yes, that Daniel Boone. This book not only tells the story of the events surrounding the rescue of those three girls, but also demonstrates the pivotal nature this event had in the formation of the state of Kentucky and further expansion to the west. After reading Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America's First Frontier earlier this year, some of this was a review of the facts presented there. The books actually complement each other quite well and I would definitely recommend reading both. The intersection of the Revolutionary War with Westward Expansion is complicated. Decisions were made then, some inspiring and others gross missteps. We can learn more about our history from books like these and I thank Matthew Pearl for the research done to bring this piece of history to life. Thank you to Harper and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Caren

    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 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. [Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC.]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burke

    "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 thirtee "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 Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. #TheTakingofJemimaBoone #NetGalley

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 thoughts soon.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    In 1764, my sixth-great-grandparents were murdered and scalped. The story is told how eight natives led by a white man came into the Shenandoah Valley to rob settlers, who were Swiss Brethren. After they killed my ancestors, the raiders pursued the children, killing one in a pear tree, another in the middle of Tom’s Brook, and kidnapping three (or four). Of those kidnapped, the youngest boy, who was ill, and the girl(s), were killed because they could not keep up. The oldest child, Michael, was In 1764, my sixth-great-grandparents were murdered and scalped. The story is told how eight natives led by a white man came into the Shenandoah Valley to rob settlers, who were Swiss Brethren. After they killed my ancestors, the raiders pursued the children, killing one in a pear tree, another in the middle of Tom’s Brook, and kidnapping three (or four). Of those kidnapped, the youngest boy, who was ill, and the girl(s), were killed because they could not keep up. The oldest child, Michael, was taken to Ohio where he lived with the natives for three years before he was returned in a prisoner exchange. My ancestor’s experiences were not unique. Thousands of colonists were attacked and taken. Hundreds assimilated into native culture. Some escaped and other were traded back to the colonists. But, it was news to me to learn that Daniel Boone’s daughter had been captured by natives, and that Boone himself had been taken and adopted as the son of a chief. The Taking of Jemima Boone is the first book of narrative nonfiction by Matthew Pearl. I have enjoyed his historical mystery novels with literary themes. Now, I can attest that Pearl’s nonfiction is just as entertaining and just as riveting. The capture of Jemima Boone and how her father and others tracked and battled the kidnappers, killing several, began a cycle of revenge. One of the natives Boone killed was the son of a chief who in a later battle took Boone hostage and adopted him as his son. The father of one of the other kidnapped girls vied for control of Boonesboro, later telling a false narrative of the rescue and even accusing Boone of treason. Boone bonded with his native family, who forgave him when he finally escaped; they understood his desire to see his family, and hoped he would return with them. Boone’s ability to find non-violent ways of solving problems and his connection with the natives is impressive, especially when most colonists preferred immediate, violent action when it came to the natives. Settlers encroached on native hunting grounds, often illegally according to treaties between the British and the native tribes. But the colonists were also breaking away from Britain and the tribes had to take sides. The Shawnees, Seneca, Cherokee, and other tribes allied with the British, entrenched in their stronghold at Ft. Detroit, and were tasked to destroy Boonesboro, which threatened to allow colonists a western stronghold. In the book I met Simon Girty, a colonist who, along with his brothers, was kidnapped by natives when a teenager. He became an interpreter, his alliance shifting to the British during the war, which gave him a dreadful reputation. Some histories claim he was the one who led the murder of my ancestors. But, in 1764, Girty had just been released from captivity and reunited with his mother and brothers. Boone was taken captive along with 28 fellow Boonesboro men on a salt-making expedition. He argued that he and his men be kept alive as war prisoners. Simon Girty’s brothers were there and voted for mercy, “a stance contradicting the notorious, near-demonic reputation the Girtys had developed among settlers.” Simon Girty was unable to save another white man who was brutally tortured and killed. Boone not only had to content with the British and the native tribes wanting to destroy Boonesboro, internal conflicts between him and other settlers simmered and brewed. Boone’s leadership was under attack on all sides. Pearl’s book is a wonderful narrative history. The personal stories of Jemima and Daniel Boone are the backbone of the book, a way for readers to connect to the history. I received a free egalley from the publisher though NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    4.5 . . . very good story of Boonesborough, KY in its earliest days. The focus of the book is really Daniel Boone & his relationships with the area Indians but author does excellent job of showing how important the kidnapping of Jemima and the 2 others girls was and the after-effects that it had including the later capture, imprisonment by British and adoption of Daniel Boone into a Shawnee family. Jemima remains important in the story as she, of all his family, remains convinced that Daniel is 4.5 . . . very good story of Boonesborough, KY in its earliest days. The focus of the book is really Daniel Boone & his relationships with the area Indians but author does excellent job of showing how important the kidnapping of Jemima and the 2 others girls was and the after-effects that it had including the later capture, imprisonment by British and adoption of Daniel Boone into a Shawnee family. Jemima remains important in the story as she, of all his family, remains convinced that Daniel is alive during his long time away and she and her husband remain at the Boonesborough fort in spite of great danger when her mother and other siblings return to North Carolina. Very interesting to me was the ideas of family in the colonial time. Author says that even among the white settlers, early deaths were so common that extended family raised children and for the Indians, they adopted both children and adults into their families to replace the many losses they were suffering. Having just read 2 of Louise Erdrich's novels set on the Ojibwa reservation that deal with themes of justice and revenge, it was especially fascinating to see the Shawnee chief, Blackfish, adopt Daniel Boone as his son, to "replace" the son that Boone had killed when rescuing Jemima. Daniel Boone escaped eventually and returned to fight against his adopted father, protecting Boonesborough but it seems there was real affection and respect on both sides. The time and place were very fluid; it was the early days of the Revolution, very early days in the settlement of Kentucky, where there was a mixture of Indian tribes and attitudes towards settlers. According to the author, there is evidence that the Shawnee chief, Blackfish, envisioned a Kentucky where both Indians and settlers could live if only settlers would integrate in with the Indian villages and communities. Also very interesting was 13 year old Jemima herself; sometimes portrayed in art and story as a passive victim of the kidnapping but actually leaving clues for the trackers that rescued her, trying to ingratiate herself with the kidnappers. During the siege of Boonesborough, she was wounded actively defending the fort. Native American politics, alliances and opinions were ever shifting during this time as they were dealing with stress and change pushing at them from so many directions. Some of the Cherokee leaders who I've read about in Carolinas and GA histories, such as Dragging Canoe, show up in this story also. Author is not a historian and there are at least a couple of side stories that he mentions that don't seem to be well documented but he has many pages of source notes. Really like how he brings in things from the Boones' past and future but the story stays on the short critical time of Jemima's kidnapping and then the Boonesborough siege 2 years later. Book is 232 pages, with another 20 pages of notes and is very readable.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Glen

    I won this book in a goodreads drawing. The day I got this book in the mail, a video went viral showing a guy trying to abduct a five year old boy right in front of his mother...in New York City. The more things change... The Captive Narrative was one of the first forms of literature to come out of Colonial America. Stories of English settlers abducted by Native Americans abounded, and still today, there is a Romance story subgenre with the same premise. The abduction of Jemima Boone is one of the I won this book in a goodreads drawing. The day I got this book in the mail, a video went viral showing a guy trying to abduct a five year old boy right in front of his mother...in New York City. The more things change... The Captive Narrative was one of the first forms of literature to come out of Colonial America. Stories of English settlers abducted by Native Americans abounded, and still today, there is a Romance story subgenre with the same premise. The abduction of Jemima Boone is one of the most famous of these, as not only was her father a famous frontiersman, he managed to rescue her, due in part to her own ingenuity and resourcefulness. There's a lot of timorous attempt for context, but it seemed like Pearl was afraid of being cancelled or something.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ray Palen

    Many readers may not be aware that the legendary pioneer and American Revolutionary, Daniel Boone, had a daughter who was at one point equally as famous. Shortly following the 1776 celebration of the new ‘United States Of America’ over Great Britain, Jemima Boone and her two best friends were kidnapped by a band of American Indians. Matthew Pearl, stepping for the first time into the realm of narrative nonfiction, provides readers with a Cast Of Characters flow chart at the start of the book whic Many readers may not be aware that the legendary pioneer and American Revolutionary, Daniel Boone, had a daughter who was at one point equally as famous. Shortly following the 1776 celebration of the new ‘United States Of America’ over Great Britain, Jemima Boone and her two best friends were kidnapped by a band of American Indians. Matthew Pearl, stepping for the first time into the realm of narrative nonfiction, provides readers with a Cast Of Characters flow chart at the start of the book which makes it easy to follow the myriad of names that are to follow. In the novel’s prologue, Pearl outlines that Jemima Boone’s kidnapping was not a standalone moment but part of a chain reaction that included another kidnapping, all-out military combat, and a courtroom drama that effectively put these preceding events on trial. THE TAKING OF JEMIMA BOONE highlights all of these events. Jemima or ‘Duck’ as she was known to friends and family for her ability to take to the water so naturally is a great character who you would believe was a fictional creation rather than a flesh-and-blood young woman. The Boone’s had led the way to Kentucky before the Revolutionary War as they balanced a desire to stake out a new phase of life against portents of violence, which were often ignored. On the afternoon of July 14, 1776, a mere ten days after America’s Independence Day, Jemima, and her friends the Callaway sisters, went for a canoe ride. What was ironic is that the trio’s fathers --- Daniel Boon and Richard Callaway --- were real-life adversaries and the friction between them did not seem to permeate the friendship between the three girls. However, once the girls are kidnapped by an Indian Tribe the finger-pointing between Boone and Callaway is just the tip of the iceberg. The trouble between the American settlers and the area Indian Tribes can most recently be traced back to an incident known as Lord Dunmore’s War. Needless to say, when Chief Hanging Maw, who was guiding a group of Shawnee braves, saw the opportunity to enact a piece of revenge took it in the form of snatching up the three young women. Hanging Maw was laughingly quoted as: “We have done pretty well for old Boone this time --- got all his young squaws.” Daniel Boone launched a strategic plan to get the three girls back. Jemima knew in her heart that her father was the one man who was fit and able enough to rescue them. The girls meanwhile were being told by their captors that they were being brought to Shawnee towns. The girls realized they were either going to be killed in a revenge ritual or call to war or chosen as ‘adoptees’ for the tribe as replacements for those killed in combat or murdered in cold blood. The main reason they were inevitably kept alive may have been due to the fact that Hanging Maw fancied Jemima Boone. The girls are eventually rescued but not without consequences. During the rescue, a popular young Indian and son of War Chief Blackfish is killed. War Chief Blackfish was considered one of the Shawnee’s most feared leaders and strategists. Sides are quickly drawn for additional warfare and bloodshed that will also include Dragging Canoe, a friend and partner of Hanging Maw. Events were taking physical toll on the great Daniel Boone who suffered from a wound he acquired during an ambush as well as another battle where he shattered his ankle. Jemima eventually married and settled down in Boonseboro. Ironically, her husband’s Uncle was Richard Callaway who was now the undisputed leader of their settlement. Daniel Boone was kidnapped by an Indian tribe who was holding council over his fate. All during this time, Jemima was averring that her father was still alive in the face of rumors spread about his demise. There is a great battle between the settlers and the Indian tribes where the very alive Daniel Boone led the charge. There were points in this non-fiction book that I felt like I was reading a fictional story from James Fennimore Cooper in which the role of Daniel Boon was played by Natty “Hawkeye” Bumpo. Matthew Pearl does an expert job utilizing new fictional storytelling to take historic events and have them play out on the pages of this book in a form that read like traditional adventure fiction. Things wrap up with a huge court case that pits the old adversaries --- Boone and Callaway against each other and it is riveting. I can proudly state that Matthew Pearl’s research and branching off into non-fiction narrative storytelling is a huge hit and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of this kind of work from him. Reviewed by Ray Palen for Book Reporter

  9. 4 out of 5

    David

    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 daug 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Suellen

    • 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 India • 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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Thank you to Harper Collins Publishers for sending me this ARC for the purpose of review. If one believes that history is boring, it's because it's usually taught that way, to many a teacher's chagrin. Unfortunately, the curriculum is so packed with need-to-know information, it's hard to get across all of US history in a single year beyond a hasty "this battle and that battle and that guy did that" (and just imagine having to condense all of world history!). It ends up being the hope that student Thank you to Harper Collins Publishers for sending me this ARC for the purpose of review. If one believes that history is boring, it's because it's usually taught that way, to many a teacher's chagrin. Unfortunately, the curriculum is so packed with need-to-know information, it's hard to get across all of US history in a single year beyond a hasty "this battle and that battle and that guy did that" (and just imagine having to condense all of world history!). It ends up being the hope that students will be compelled to discover more in depth study beyond the confines of the classroom. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources that make that possible and Matthew Pearl's latest is a perfect example. The Taking of Jemima Boone is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I entered in with an historian's frame of mind, but it's highly accessible for anyone and reads like fiction. At its heart, it's the story of the capture of Daniel Boone's daughter Jemima (along with two of her friends) by Cherokee-Shawnee Indians, as well as her rescue and the aftermath, but the narrative is so much richer than that. This gives us a vivid picture (in less than 300 pages) of settler women, of the hardships settlers faced in a hostile landscape and the dangers of going against the British Crown and its colonial authorities, of the social realities of various Native tribes and of course, the complexities of the political and social relationships among European powers, white settlers, and American Indian leaders. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book. History lovers will enjoy it and anyone with an interest in the period will learn a great deal from it, especially if one is looking for a more mature look on our past than the simplicity with which our history is treated by talking heads on tv who are more interested in scoring social media likes and hits on their political opponents than getting the story correct.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bryn D

    This was a Goodreads advance reader’s edition in which I won. To be brief, this is a general but fast paced account of a few of the several violent episodes in American History on the American frontier west of the Appalachians. The premise being that the kidnapping of Daniel Boone’s daughter triggered a series of events that played a significant role in shaping early America. As someone whom I consider well read on this era I thought this was a good book for general readers but the real history This was a Goodreads advance reader’s edition in which I won. To be brief, this is a general but fast paced account of a few of the several violent episodes in American History on the American frontier west of the Appalachians. The premise being that the kidnapping of Daniel Boone’s daughter triggered a series of events that played a significant role in shaping early America. As someone whom I consider well read on this era I thought this was a good book for general readers but the real history buffs might be let down in its simplicity in that it doesn’t capture the total complexities of the era. First, I think the story of the kidnapping, rescue and aftermath stands out in significance only due to the quasi celebrity status and legendary figure that was Daniel Boone. There were so many raids, kidnappings, Indian adoptions and assimilations, massacres and violent engagements between the 1750s-1780s that but for Daniel Boone’s place in American folklore this tale would have been lost to history. Second, that this story somehow shaped the direction of the country is a stretch. The kidnapping happened in 1776, when tensions between colonists and Great Britain reached its climax forcing colonials and Indians alike to decide their loyalties and alliances. As stated above there were so many incidents, most lost to history, and to state that this one event and subsequent events was special beyond the figures involved is an exaggeration to sell the book. Third, the author makes the common reflexive errors of contemporary popular authors writing history in that he asserts his well intentioned 21st Century values and opinions regarding race, gender equality, slavery and the fate of American Indians on a 18th Century world. This was a good read but doesn’t add too much to what’s already available for avid history buffs but the general reader will surely enjoy and learn something about this violent region and era.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kim McGee

    This is Matthew Pearl's first foray into non-fiction but he is at heart a storyteller so the characters and the drama are foremost backed up by facts and background information making it easily readable. We all think we know Daniel Boone or at least the larger than life bear wrestling pioneer and the stuff of legend. This is the story of someone who is desperate to to claim pristine land for his family and generations to come, one step ahead of the politics and crowds back east. He has seen both This is Matthew Pearl's first foray into non-fiction but he is at heart a storyteller so the characters and the drama are foremost backed up by facts and background information making it easily readable. We all think we know Daniel Boone or at least the larger than life bear wrestling pioneer and the stuff of legend. This is the story of someone who is desperate to to claim pristine land for his family and generations to come, one step ahead of the politics and crowds back east. He has seen both sides of the native people and the politics and wants nothing to do with it. While on an outing away from the safe walls of the fort, Jemima Boone and a few girls are grabbed by a Cherokee raiding party and kidnapped. Jemima is her father's daughter and cleverly manages to keep a cool head allowing her dad and the others to catch up and rescue them. This would be a short tale if it ended with her safe return but instead this action opens up a hornet's nest between the settlers and the native population. Murders occur on both sides and with the Revolutionary War beginning, more people get involved as the situation spins out of control. I especially enjoyed learning about the native practice of taking hostages from their enemy and adopting them into the tribe to replace those family members killed. This seemed like such a peaceful and smart practice and one not practiced by our side. Daniel Boone knew this firsthand and found it difficult to straddle both sides. There is something for everyone - history, politics, high adventure and a birdseye view of a part of history that has been kept out of the schoolbooks. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    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. 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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    As one who grew up in Middle Tennessee on stories of Daniel Boone and the southern Appalachians during the American Revolution, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Pearl does an excellent job of presenting both sides of the Appalachian colonialist invasion of native America. He also paints Daniel Boone, quoting research, as one who cared for his family and fellow settlers. He was savvy, not only about the local population he lived among, but about human nature in general. Boone is an example of the As one who grew up in Middle Tennessee on stories of Daniel Boone and the southern Appalachians during the American Revolution, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Pearl does an excellent job of presenting both sides of the Appalachian colonialist invasion of native America. He also paints Daniel Boone, quoting research, as one who cared for his family and fellow settlers. He was savvy, not only about the local population he lived among, but about human nature in general. Boone is an example of the American immigrant, for that is what he was. He and his fellow settlers were, for the most part, poorer Americans, recently descended from those who had left Europe because they had little chance of more than simple existence in the class-conscious Europe of the time. However, these settlers would eventually exterminate the rich native American world. What would have happened if they had acted less aggressively, settling in smaller communities, with strict regulations about appropriating the land of the original inhabitants? Perhaps the two cultures could have grown a more harmonious union, each learning and appreciating the other. Indeed the book opened for me the whole dilemma of refugee and settled land. World population at the time of the American Revolution was small compared to today. How do we deal with the vast differences in opportunity of different regions today?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alexia Chantel

    A historical look at how Kentucky was formed and the impact of the kidnapping of three young women, one of which was the daughter of Daniel Boone. Fascinating if you're interested in American History. A historical look at how Kentucky was formed and the impact of the kidnapping of three young women, one of which was the daughter of Daniel Boone. Fascinating if you're interested in American History.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mary Jo

    I did like the book. It tells a part of history that I'm unaware of in a more personal way. The title is a bit misleading. While the kidnapping of Jemima Boone did set of a series of events, the book is really about Daniel Boone and the rest of the early settlers of Kentucky and the context of intruding Indian land. I did find that interesting, but it's not about Jemima. It seems historically accurate and the information was well-researched. I did like the book. It tells a part of history that I'm unaware of in a more personal way. The title is a bit misleading. While the kidnapping of Jemima Boone did set of a series of events, the book is really about Daniel Boone and the rest of the early settlers of Kentucky and the context of intruding Indian land. I did find that interesting, but it's not about Jemima. It seems historically accurate and the information was well-researched.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susan P

    I expected a book about Jemima Boone, but this was mostly about her father, Daniel Boone; and though it was supposed to be non-fiction, it contained a lot of unverified innuendo.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mlg

    I enjoyed this true story of Daniel Boone and the kidnapping of his amazing daughter, Jemima. You see all the petty jealousies, the betrayal of indians who tried to help the Americans, and the treachery of the British who enlisted the Indians’ help in attacking the Boonesboro fort. Great picture of life under siege.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Hall

    After recently reading the galley version of another book about Daniel Boone and his family, Blood and Treasure, 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 After recently reading the galley version of another book about Daniel Boone and his family, Blood and Treasure, 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!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anna Wooliver

    I very much wanted to like this book, but it uses the trope of the resourceful and beautiful white girl kidnapped by Indians to lure you in. I am ashamed of this fact, because it is what initially drew me to it. In the book the famous Indian "captive" Mary Jemison is mentioned and she notes that her taking was to atone for the life of a son of the tribe killed by colonists, and I appreciated this mention of the Native American mindset. The book is less about the life and kidnapping of Jemima Boo I very much wanted to like this book, but it uses the trope of the resourceful and beautiful white girl kidnapped by Indians to lure you in. I am ashamed of this fact, because it is what initially drew me to it. In the book the famous Indian "captive" Mary Jemison is mentioned and she notes that her taking was to atone for the life of a son of the tribe killed by colonists, and I appreciated this mention of the Native American mindset. The book is less about the life and kidnapping of Jemima Boone, and more a superficial look at the forceful colonization of Cherokee and Shawnee territory by white colonists. It is very much about Daniel Boone, and puts him in the forefront as a leader and hero. As a history book it lacks in detail, and as a biography of Jemima Boone it lacks concrete facts. She appears in order to tie the sections together, and this story is very readable, but depends greatly on "family lore" positioned as fact. The narrative seems to forget Jemima, the focus of the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dan Radovich

    Pearl's first published non-fiction book is just as rewarding as his fiction. He is a stickler for details which makes this tale all the more enjoyable to devour. I had never heard of this adventure in Daniel Boone's life before I read that Matthew was bringing it to the public. The kidnapping of Jemima and two of her young friends by a group of Cherokee and Shawnees occurred in the Summer of 1776. Boone and his family were attempting to strengthen a settlement in woodland Kentucky were the trib Pearl's first published non-fiction book is just as rewarding as his fiction. He is a stickler for details which makes this tale all the more enjoyable to devour. I had never heard of this adventure in Daniel Boone's life before I read that Matthew was bringing it to the public. The kidnapping of Jemima and two of her young friends by a group of Cherokee and Shawnees occurred in the Summer of 1776. Boone and his family were attempting to strengthen a settlement in woodland Kentucky were the tribes also lived and roamed. The rescue mission is the opening portion of the tale, but the aftermath is even more thrilling. You are guaranteed to learn more about America's history as well as be entertained by this work. He brings all parties to vivid life, letting you walk in their shoes to get a feel for what life must have been like for both colonial settler and Native American.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    Many readers may not be aware that legendary pioneer and frontiersman Daniel Boone had a daughter who at one point was equally as famous, but for all the wrong reasons. Matthew Pearl, stepping into the realm of narrative nonfiction for the first time, provides readers with a “Cast of Characters” flow chart at the start of the book, which makes it easy to keep track of the myriad of names that follow. In the prologue, he states that 13-year-old Jemima Boone’s kidnapping was not a stand-alone momen Many readers may not be aware that legendary pioneer and frontiersman Daniel Boone had a daughter who at one point was equally as famous, but for all the wrong reasons. Matthew Pearl, stepping into the realm of narrative nonfiction for the first time, provides readers with a “Cast of Characters” flow chart at the start of the book, which makes it easy to keep track of the myriad of names that follow. In the prologue, he states that 13-year-old Jemima Boone’s kidnapping was not a stand-alone moment but part of a chain reaction that included another abduction, all-out military combat, and a courtroom drama that effectively put these preceding events on trial. THE TAKING OF JEMIMA BOONE addresses all of these occurrences. Jemima is such a great character that you would swear she was a fictional creation and not a flesh-and-blood young woman. The Boones had led the way to Kentucky before the Revolutionary War as they balanced a desire to stake out a new phase of life against portents of violence, which were often ignored. On the afternoon of July 14, 1776, a mere 10 days after America’s Independence Day, Jemima and sisters Betsy and Fanny Callaway went for a canoe ride. Ironically, the trio’s fathers --- Daniel Boone and Richard Callaway --- were real-life adversaries, but the friction between them did not seem to negatively impact the friendship of their daughters. Following the girls' abduction, the finger-pointing between Boone and Callaway began, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. The trouble between the American settlers and the Indian tribes can be traced back most recently to an incident known as Lord Dunmore’s War. When Hanging Maw, who was guiding a group of Shawnee braves, saw the opportunity to enact some revenge, he took it in the form of snatching up the three young ladies. He was laughingly quoted as saying, “We have done pretty well for old Boone this time --- got all his young squaws.” Boone launched a strategic plan to get the girls back. Jemima knew in her heart that her father was the one man who was fit and able enough to rescue them. They were told by their captors that they were being brought to Shawnee towns. At that point they realized they were either going to lose their lives in a revenge ritual or call to war, or be chosen as “adoptees” for the tribe as replacements for those killed in combat or murdered in cold blood. Supposedly Hanging Maw fancied Jemima, which may be the primary reason they were kept alive. The girls were eventually rescued but not without major consequences. Many times I felt like I was reading a work of fiction from James Fennimore Cooper, in which the role of Daniel Boone was played by Natty “Hawkeye” Bumppo. Matthew Pearl’s research is impressive, and his branching off into narrative nonfiction storytelling is a huge hit. I hope we haven’t seen the last of this kind of work from him. Reviewed by Ray Palen

  24. 5 out of 5

    ManOfLaBook.com

    For more reviews and bookish posts visit https://www.ManOfLaBook.com The Taking of Jemima Boone: The True Story of the Kidnap and Rescue That Shaped America by Matthew Pearl is a retelling of the Daniel Boone family saga. Mr. Pearl is a published author and an international bestseller; his books have been translated to over 30 languages. A narrative non-fiction which is entertaining, as well as informative. I have heard about Daniel Boone, but frankly never knew much about him. I certainly didn’t For more reviews and bookish posts visit https://www.ManOfLaBook.com The Taking of Jemima Boone: The True Story of the Kidnap and Rescue That Shaped America by Matthew Pearl is a retelling of the Daniel Boone family saga. Mr. Pearl is a published author and an international bestseller; his books have been translated to over 30 languages. A narrative non-fiction which is entertaining, as well as informative. I have heard about Daniel Boone, but frankly never knew much about him. I certainly didn’t know about the kidnapping story, or that James Fenimore Cooper fictionalized the events in Last of the Mohicans. The Taking of Jemima Boone: The True Story of the Kidnap and Rescue That Shaped America by Matthew Pearl tells of how the kidnapping of Jemima Boone, by Native Americans, started a cycle of violence and revenge. When Boone tracked the party to rescue his daughter, he also killed the son of a Chief. That Chief, later on, took Boone hostage and adopted him as his son. On top of that, Boone was accused of treason by people trying to take control of Boonesboro, Kentucky. The English, at the time, were trying to get the Native Americans to fight for them. The American Revolutionary War was not going well and they needed to control Kentucky. Additionally, the Native Americans, on their part, did not know which side to choose. Not that it mattered though, both sides would eventually break their treaties and promises. This book touches on the crossroads of the American Revolution and Western expansion. However, it is not the focus of the narrative, but it can’t be ignored. This book brings alive not only the Boone Family, but the whole frontier. Daniel Boone is not a super-tracker, but a man struggling to lead. Native Americans are written about with all their complexities and culture, which is one that even today we could certainly learn much from.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC. 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 Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC. 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.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    My rating is less because the use of legend and rumor instead of pure history in the narrative was discomforting. I thought the story would have been fine without those inclusions, which were quite a distraction. As the story proceeded, though, I did get more involved with the characters. The title of the book is misleading also, since Jemima Boone was only held captive for a very short time. But, the author says the events surrounding her and her friends' capture were most likely pivotal in ho My rating is less because the use of legend and rumor instead of pure history in the narrative was discomforting. I thought the story would have been fine without those inclusions, which were quite a distraction. As the story proceeded, though, I did get more involved with the characters. The title of the book is misleading also, since Jemima Boone was only held captive for a very short time. But, the author says the events surrounding her and her friends' capture were most likely pivotal in how the rest of the story unfolded. Daniel Boone and his family were residing in a small town in Kentucky when the girls were lured (possibly) to the river and canoed across to see some flowers and were captured by Indians. Daniel and others found and retrieved the girls. Later on, while on a salt making expedition, Daniel and 23 of his coworkers were captured by Indians. They were held much longer, so much so that Daniel learned the Native language and became a "son" to the chief. He escaped, but most of the others did not--some even staying to become part of the tribe. The British were in league with some of the Indians against the American settlers, trying the eradicate them from this new frontier. Daniel and his daughter Jemima were very close; she always stood by his side and supported him. She did marry into the Callaway family, even though the Callaway patriach was constantly undermining Boone. He even went so far as to try to get Daniel court martialed for so-called treason. Many of the families at Boonesboro (Fort Boone) intermarried since they had large families. It was an interesting take on Daniel Boone since so much has been romanticized. The author says the Last of the Mohicans was such, even removing Jemima Boone from the narrative mostly.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ann

    The kidnapping of Jemima Boone, daughter of frontiersman, Daniel Boone, was a well-known story in early America. (The story was the inspiration for the novel “Last of the Mohicans.”) With this historical account, Matthew Pearl, brings modern day Americans closer not only to the story of the kidnap itself, but uses it to reveal much about America’s westward expansion, the relationships of Native Indians tribes, and the early days of the Revolutionary War for America’s independence. The story cent The kidnapping of Jemima Boone, daughter of frontiersman, Daniel Boone, was a well-known story in early America. (The story was the inspiration for the novel “Last of the Mohicans.”) With this historical account, Matthew Pearl, brings modern day Americans closer not only to the story of the kidnap itself, but uses it to reveal much about America’s westward expansion, the relationships of Native Indians tribes, and the early days of the Revolutionary War for America’s independence. The story centers on the Kentucky settlement of Boonesboro’s struggle to survive, but expands to include the struggles of the nascent independence movement. Pearl reconstructs frontier Kentucky with interesting historical details, including not only incidents of violence, but also intermarriage between settlers and Native Americans, the integration of kidnapped settlers into tribal communities, shared survival skills, and changing alliances. With details such as what the inside of the Boone’s family cabin looked like, as well as tracking and hunting techniques, and the crucial role of frontier women, this book provides a captivating glimpse into frontier life. This is Pearl’s first book in this genre and it shows when he occasionally diverts the reader from the characters or events at hand for a historical back-glance, or to introduce new characters breaking the narrative. That tendency notwithstanding, overall this book on an episode in American history that was a turning point in history, as well as a deeply personal story, is worth reading.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leticia Ramos

    Matthew Pearl did a great job writing his first Non-Fiction book. It read like a novel at times, which made reading the history a bit more enjoyable and not feel daunting. This was my first time reading about this particular time in history. To learn about the settlers that kept on pushing the boundaries and creeping into the territories, was a history I never knew about. I really enjoyed learning about the complex histories between the settlers and the Native Americans, and how the conflict of Matthew Pearl did a great job writing his first Non-Fiction book. It read like a novel at times, which made reading the history a bit more enjoyable and not feel daunting. This was my first time reading about this particular time in history. To learn about the settlers that kept on pushing the boundaries and creeping into the territories, was a history I never knew about. I really enjoyed learning about the complex histories between the settlers and the Native Americans, and how the conflict of interests and land truly affected everyone. It is not the linear we have been taught to believe, but a messy history that is rich. There were those that wanted peace and those that wanted what they only cared for and would get it no matter the consequences. All this happening during the nation's fight in the Revolutionary War. Jemima Boone's kidnapping was so fascinating to read about. They way she handled the capture and the aftermath of her capture was amazing. The skills to have a such a young age and being a young woman at that time, it showed the closest truth to settler life and how some could handle it while others could not. I received this ebook for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christina O.

    The Taking of Jemima Boone is the type of nonfiction that is easy to devour and pulls you into the story. Despite hearing about the name of the Boone family since I was a kid, I was completely ignorant about their history. Set at the beginning of the revolutionary war, Pearl tells the story of the Boonesboro settlement in Kentucky and the politics on the frontier. When Jemima and two other girls are captured by Indians they must do what they can to stay alive and slow the group down so that the The Taking of Jemima Boone is the type of nonfiction that is easy to devour and pulls you into the story. Despite hearing about the name of the Boone family since I was a kid, I was completely ignorant about their history. Set at the beginning of the revolutionary war, Pearl tells the story of the Boonesboro settlement in Kentucky and the politics on the frontier. When Jemima and two other girls are captured by Indians they must do what they can to stay alive and slow the group down so that the townsmen, led by Daniel Boone, can catch up to them. The capture and rescue of Jemima is covered in the first third of the book while the rest of it focuses on the fallout from those event and what comes after. Although Jemima is the focus of the summary and the title, she isn’t as central in the book since Pearl is focusing on what is happening around her more than on her. That being said, Pearl wrote that although Jemima’s story was popular, she was often cut out of it. Pearl made an effort to keep track of where Jemima was and what she was doing throughout the events. I appreciate Pearl’s endeavor to put Jemima back in the narrative. *Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Mr. Pearl provides a highly readable, insightful history of the beginnings of Kentucky statehood and Manifest Destiny. Told through a chronicle of the establishment of Boonesboro and the kidnapping of Daniel Boone's daughter, Jemima, the author provides a sober, yet satisfying, narrative of events in late 18th century Kentucky. I really appreciated Mr. Pearl's description of the attributes (and the negative characteristics) of both the Native Americans and the American settlers. He does not shy a Mr. Pearl provides a highly readable, insightful history of the beginnings of Kentucky statehood and Manifest Destiny. Told through a chronicle of the establishment of Boonesboro and the kidnapping of Daniel Boone's daughter, Jemima, the author provides a sober, yet satisfying, narrative of events in late 18th century Kentucky. I really appreciated Mr. Pearl's description of the attributes (and the negative characteristics) of both the Native Americans and the American settlers. He does not shy away from the overall genocidal approach of both the British and the Americans at the outset of the American Revolution, while also noting the real bonds of friendship and love that some settlers (most notably Daniel Boone) had in concert with the Native Americans. Some histories are dry and come off as transcriptions of events. Others take too many liberties with the historical record, inventing events or the thinking behind events to try to gin up the story. Still others feel a burning desire to relate events of the 18th and 19th century to the politics of today, virtue signaling along the way. Mr. Pearl tells it like it is, piecing together the historical record into a page-turner of the narrative, even noting where certain events or conversations are lost to history.

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