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Cover image for David Crockett : the Lion of the West
David Crockett : the Lion of the West


1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton & Co., ©2011.
Physical Description:
xviii, 380 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
"Kilt him a b'ar" -- Born on a riverbank in Franklin -- The Crocketts arrive -- Over the mountain -- On the Nolichucky -- A boy's learning -- The Odyssey -- Rise above -- Lovesick -- Polly -- Finley's Gap -- Kentuck -- "Remember Fort Mims" -- "We shot them like dogs" -- Riding with Sharp Knife -- "Root hog or die" -- Cabin fever -- A tincture of luck -- "Itchy footed" -- "Natural born sense" -- Gentleman from the cane -- Land of the shakes -- In the eye of a "harricane" -- A fool for luck -- Big time -- "The victory is ours" -- Man without a party -- Trails of tears -- Lion of the west -- Bear-bit lion -- Go ahead -- Just a matter of time -- Gone to Texas -- Time of the comet -- El Alamo.
A biography of the legendary frontiersman, soldier, and martyr examines his life--from hunting bears in the unspoiled countryside to helping defend the Alamo--and aims to dispel long-held myths.


Call Number
921 Crockett, David 2011
923 Crockett, David

On Order



Popular culture transformed his memory into "Davy Crockett," and Hollywood gave him a raccoon hat he hardly ever wore. In this surprising New York Times bestseller, historian Michael Wallis has cast a fresh look at the flesh-and-blood man behind one of the most celebrated figures in American history. More than a riveting story, Wallis's David Crockett is a revelatory, authoritative biography that separates fact from fiction and provides us with an extraordinary evocation of not only a true American hero but also the rough-and-tumble times in which he lived.

Author Notes

Michael Wallis , the best-selling author of Route 66 and Billy the Kid, has published eighteen books and won numerous honors and awards. He is a popular public speaker and a highly acclaimed voice actor. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Now known as a Disney coonskin-capped country caricature, David Crockett created a lasting persona built on his survival skills, embodiment of manifest destiny, and captivating storytelling, says Wallis. Offering only perfunctory coverage of Crockett's popularly imagined martyrdom at the battle of the Alamo, Wallis (Billy the Kid) sifts through his subject's substantial failures as a wilderness family man (troubled by debt, drink, and often abandoning his family) and business entrepreneur while also detailing overlooked professional successes such as his election to the U.S. and Tennessee legislatures. While Wallis illustrates the formally uneducated frontiersman's remarkable adaptability, Crockett's physical bravery against bears and moral courage in opposing aggressive mistreatment of Native Americans shine through as the defeated legislator finally suggested to his fellow Tennesseans that they "go to hell" while he happily left for Texas. Wallis's well-documented take on the famous pop culture hero reads like fiction, enhanced by flowing prose in portraying a flawed but fascinating frontiersman who faithfully carried a treasured rifle named after his estranged wife, Betsey. 60 illus. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

He wasn't born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, and he didn't kill a b'ar when he was only three. Even so, David Crockett was a force of nature, as this fine biography details.The Scots-Irish son of the American frontier, writes Wallis (Billy the Kid, 2007, etc.), became a legend within his lifetime and "died as a work still very much in progress." Yet much of what we know about Crockett is erroneous, thanks to fictions perpetuated over the course of nearly two centuries. David CrockettDavid, not Davywas indeed an accomplished hunter of bears, having killed more than 100 of them in seven months during 182526, as Wallis carefully records. But more than that, he was a frontier entrepreneur who "approached nature as a science and hunting as an art," earning a considerable income supplying furs for a hungry East Coast and European trade. As a politician, an endeavor in which hunting stories were guaranteed to liven up stump speeches, he fell afoul of fellow Tennessean Andrew Jackson early on, opining against several of Jackson's policies and views, particularly on the matter of what to do about the Indians. (Crockett opposed the relocations that would culminate in the Trail of Tears.) It was on the hustings, Wallis writes, that Crockett perfected a kind of bumpkin persona, wearing a buckskin shirt with two big pockets: "In one pocket he kept a big twist of tobacco and in the other a bottle of liquor," either of which worked to sway a voter. When Crockett's card in Washington played out, he left for Texaswhose Anglo secessionists, writes the author, desired freedom from Mexico at least in part because Mexico had outlawed slavery. There Crockett met his endbut not, as Wallis notes, in quite the way Walt Disney would have it.An excellent study likely to tick off the hagiographers.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Even before hi. martyrdo. at the Alamo in 1836, Crockett had become the proverbia. legend in his own time. Like others of that ilk, he was, and still is, a blank slate upon which many can impose their own characterizations. He was a rugged frontier individualist, a folksy humorist, a fierce Indian fighter, and then a fierce defender of Indian rights. Efforts to glean th. rea. Crockett are complicated by Crockett's own efforts to add to his mythology. Wallis' examination of the man behind the myth is both well written and engrossing; yet, he succeeds primarily in revealing the contradictions in Crockett's life, without adequately explaining what molded them. This is a chronological biography that begins with Crockett's antecedents in Ireland's Ulster province and then traces David's rough-and-tumble upbringing on the Tennessee frontier, where his tavern-owning father briefly hired him out to a passing stranger to alleviate his debts. Wallis emphasizes that his rather turbulent childhood was essential in forming Crockett's restless spirit. Wallis also offers some interesting insights into Crockett's political career and his relationship with Andrew Jackson. His move to Texas was motivated by a desire for land rather than opposition to the supposed tyranny of Santa Anna.--Freeman, Ja. Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Captivated as a child by the mythical Davy Crockett as presented by Walt Disney during the 1950s, Wallis (Pretty Boy: The Life and Times of Charles Arthur Floyd) endeavors here to find the man behind the myth; he notes that Crockett always referred to himself in writing as David, but his mission is not specifically to debunk the mythology that surrounded Crockett so much as to present a readable and folksy account of the actual facts of Crockett's life. This is not an academic study that contextualizes Crockett in relation to many of his contemporaries or explores the milieu in which he thrived. Like Daniel Boone, Crockett was viewed as the quintessential frontiersman, but historians seem to have shied away from Crockett since a Mexican diary revealed in the 1970s that he did not die in the heat of battle at the Alamo but was instead executed as a prisoner. Wallis concludes by arguing that we should celebrate Crockett for how he lived. VERDICT Lay readers will enjoy this biography, and if it leads them to want to learn more about Boone as well, they will enjoy Robert Morgan's Boone: A Biography.-John Burch, Campbellsville Univ. Lib., KY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Personal Introductionp. xi
Prefacep. xvii
Part I
1 ôKilt Him a B'aröp. 5
2 Born on a Riverbank in Franklinp. 10
3 The Crocketts Arrivep. 16
4 Over the Mountainp. 22
5 On the Nolichuckyp. 29
6 A Boy's Learningp. 38
7 Coming of Agep. 45
8 The Odysseyp. 51
9 Rise Abovep. 59
10 Lovesickp. 65
11 Pollyp. 71
12 Finley's Gapp. 78
Part II
13 Kentuckp. 89
14 ôRemember Fort Mimsöp. 98
15 ôWe Shot Them Like Dogsöp. 105
16 Riding with Sharp Knifep. 114
17 ôRoot Hog or Dieöp. 119
18 Cabin Feverp. 129
19 A Tincture of Luckp. 136
Part III
20 ôItchy Footedöp. 145
21 ôNatural Born Senseöp. 151
22 Gentleman from the Canep. 157
23 Land of the Shakesp. 165
24 In the Eye of a ôHarricaneöp. 173
25 A Fool for Luckp. 182
26 Big Timep. 191
27 ôThe Victory Is Oursöp. 197
Part IV
28 Man without a Partyp. 209
29 Trails of Tearsp. 217
30 Lion of the Westp. 227
31 Bear-Bit Lionp. 236
32 Go Aheadp. 244
33 Just a Matter of Timep. 253
34 Gone to Texasp. 263
35 Time of the Cometp. 277
36 El Alamop. 289
Acknowledgmentsp. 307
Notesp. 313
Bibliographyp. 351
Indexp. 365