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.
Publishers 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.
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