The taking of Jemima Boone Colonial settlers, tribal nations, and the kidnap that shaped America

Matthew Pearl

Book - 2021

Explores the little-known true story of the kidnapping of thirteen-year-old Jemima Boone, Daniel Boone's daughter, by a Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party and the ensuing battle with reverberations that nobody could predict.

Saved in:

Bookmobile Nonfiction Show me where

0 / 1 copies available

2nd Floor Show me where

2 / 2 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
Bookmobile Nonfiction 973.3/Pearl Bookmobile Storage
2nd Floor 973.3/Pearl Checked In
2nd Floor 973.3/Pearl Checked In
New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2021]
Main Author
Matthew Pearl (author)
First edition
Physical Description
272 pages : illustration ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 239-260) and index.
  • Cast of Characters
  • Prologue
  • Book I. The Taking
  • Chapter 1. Duck
  • Chapter 2. Bloody Ground
  • Chapter 3. The Plan
  • Chapter 4. Ends of the Earth
  • Book II. Retaliation
  • Chapter 5. Fallout
  • Chapter 6. Rise of Blackfish
  • Chapter 7. Families
  • Book III. The Reckoning
  • Chapter 8. Risen
  • Chapter 9. Before the Thunder
  • Chapter 10. The Last Siege
  • Chapter 11. Aftershocks
  • Author's Note
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
Review by Choice Review

Pearl, the author of well-received novels, claims to have written a new, historically accurate account of the Daniel Boone story focusing on the kidnapping of Jemima, the frontiersman's 13-year-old daughter. Her kidnapping by the Shawnees and Cherokees set in motion frontier warfare, Daniel Boone's legendary escape from captivity, and his later trial for treason. Pearl states that Jemima's capture influenced author James Fennimore Cooper's depiction of Cora in The Last of the Mohicans (1826); however, captivity accounts were a major part of American literature since 1682. Although the author has done extensive historical research, especially mining the Draper Manuscript Collection, he adds too little new information to the Boone story, one already told better by John Mack Faragher in Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer (CH, May'93, 30-5205). Further, Pearl's knowledge of the Shawnees and Cherokees is too limited, failing to make full use of the anthropological literature to gain insights into why they sought and treated captives the way they did, what the nature of their warfare was, and why they suddenly abandoned their assault on Boonesboro. Moreover, in his own words, Pearl uses the offensive word squaw (pp. 184, 196). Summing Up: Not recommended. --Laurence M. Hauptman, emeritus, State University of New York at New Paltz

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

The kidnapping and rescue of Daniel Boone's daughter may be the inciting incident of novelist Pearl's (The Dante Chamber, 2018) nonfiction debut, but it serves as the narrative catalyst for much more. In the book's early chapters, Pearl chronicles this capture and release tale, playing to the strengths of his fiction background as he elegantly weaves the perspectives of settlers, Native populations, and enslaved peoples. However, as the narrative continues, Pearl begins to get lost in something of a name-dropping soup, sometimes losing the story to a barrage of facts. Those facts are important, though and with more than 230 sources, Pearl painstakingly cultivates an accurate account of events. But he's at his best when he leans into more expressive language: "To be stuck in the middle of a fierce war in which one's own land was directly at issue felt apocalyptic, with good reason." Despite these ebbs and flows, The Taking of Jemima Boone is an authoritative primer on Kentucky's white settlers and Indigenous populations.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Novelist Pearl (The Dante Club) makes his nonfiction debut with a riveting account of the July 1776 kidnapping of frontiersman Daniel Boone's daughter and two friends by Cherokee and Shawnee Indians. Pearl vividly evokes life on the Kentucky frontier and details how Jemima Boone and sisters Betsy and Fanny Callaway dropped clues along the trail telling the rescue party how many captors there were, and where they were being taken. During the rescue, the son of Shawnee leader Blackfish was killed; in retaliation, raids on colonial settlements increased. Months after the girls' rescue, the Shawnee captured Daniel Boone and 28 other men from the settlement of Boonesboro and adopted many of them into the tribe. Boone became the replacement for Blackfish's murdered son and developed a strong rapport with the Shawnee chief that lasted even after Boone made his escape. Pearl illuminates shifting alliances and betrayals among Native tribes, British soldiers, and American colonists during the early years of the Revolutionary War, and notes that Blackfish advocated diplomacy over violence and tried to turn the frontier into an "integrated shared space." Instead, the Kentucky settlements became "a testing ground" for manifest destiny, with catastrophic results for the tribes. This enthralling, meticulously researched tale sheds news light on Daniel Boone and early American culture. Agent: Susan Gluck, WME. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Daniel Boone's daughter, 13-year-old Jemima, and friends Betsy and Fanny were kidnapped from their Kentucky outpost by a Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party challenging the settlers' theft and decimation of their land. Hanging Maw, the raiders' leader, soon recognized Jemima's value as a bargaining chip, and she planned to use Jemima to secure a peaceful resolution of tensions. As New York Times best-selling novelist Pearl argues in his nonfiction debut, Jemima's rescue in an ambush led by her father upended Hanging Maw's plans--and possibly changed how America's colonists and its original peoples would interact in the future. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Novelist Pearl turns to history in this study of Daniel Boone and the settlement of Kentucky. The moment that fuels the narrative is largely a footnote in the larger history of the Revolutionary War: Shawnee and Cherokee warriors captured Boone's daughter Jemima, along with two other girls, and took them to the British stronghold of Fort Detroit. Boone and a few hardy frontiersmen tracked them, rescued the girls, and killed a couple of their kidnappers. "The drive to protect and avenge family would not end with Jemima and Daniel Boone: An Indian killed in the rescue, reports suggested, was the son of War Chief Blackfish, one of the…most feared leaders and strategists," writes Pearl, who zooms out to look at this well-known episode in the context of the ensuing war on the frontier. That context is as a peripheral theater of operations in which British forces, having driven the French from the western frontier, were busily engaged in recruiting Native peoples to go to war against settlers like Boone. As Pearl makes clear, in a sense it doesn't matter which side the Natives cast their lot with. They would have lost political power and, in time, their lands to the voracious appetites of the Euro-Americans, even though one thoughtful Native commander concocted an interesting scheme by which captured settlers could be repurposed as citizens of those Indigenous nations, which would "turn the frontier into an integrated, shared space." It would not come to pass. Though Bob Drury and Tom Clavin's Blood and Treasure covers this ground better, Pearl spins an entertaining story. The capable, resourceful Jemima, occasionally forgotten in the narrative, turns up at just the right moments, plot points if this were a novel. Memorably, she was there to hold her father's hand as he died at the improbably old age of 85. A readable though ancillary work of frontier history. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.