on 25 September 2001
I received this book as a gift. The story of legendary frontiersman Simon Kenton is riveting from the turn of the first page. This frontiersman lived a larger than life life, yet Eckert's careful research shows how the incredible was achieved one step at a time by this restless early American. One thing that can also be said is that Eckert does not play favourites with one side or the other in a conflict. He tells it like it was and doesn't hide any details, good or bad, gruesome or gallant.
The best part of the story is that it is most likely all true - Eckert has invested months of research and for any skeptic you can read the unintrusive amplification notes in the back and check out all the sources yourself. (Actually, reading the amplification notes is every bit as interesting as the story itself.) Mr Eckert is not afraid to list all his sources for a particular bit and why he believes one in particular appears to be the actual truth and why he specifically excluded another. Further, in his later books he is not afraid to admit he had made a mistake in an earlier book.
He goes on to admit in the foreward that the actual dialogue is not of course necessarily what was actually said because nobody wrote down what was actually said in most cases, however Eckert's painstaking research has allowed him (possibly better than anyone else) to speculate what that person most likely would have said or thought at that particular time and place. He can do this because he's spent days reading personal journals, letters and other biographies and has tried to get inside the minds of the people he's writing about.
Whether you are interested in "as it really was" American history, or you are interested in a good historical novel, this is your book. I can also recommend any of the other Eckert historical novels - they are all excellent. However, if you haven't yet read any other books by this author, I recommend this one as your introduction to Allen Eckert, one of the finest historical novelists living today.
One word of warning, some parts of this book contain extremely graphic depictions of violence, I would not recommend it for pre teens.
on 12 March 2016
Be aware that this book was written in 1966! and they still charge £7.99 for it. After seeing the film The Revenant and reading the book it prompted me to look for a factual book about the History of frontiers men in the USA. The product description suggested that this was a well researched factual account of those time. It was misleading. The book is a factual novel telling a story as if it were by a third person narrative. There is dialogue and setting of the scene just like a work of fiction. It covers the history of several characters, flitting from one to the other rather than telling one story and moving on.
If you are looking for an account of this period in time set out like a reference book then this is not for you. If you want a story set in the frontier times regardless of whether you want fact or fiction then this might be just what you are after but remember the price - nearly £8 for a 50 year old book.