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David Crockett: The Lion of the West

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  723 ratings  ·  131 reviews
His name was David Crockett. He never signed his name any other way, but popular culture transformed his memory into "Davy Crockett," and Hollywood gave him a raccoon hat he hardly ever wore. Best-selling historian Michael Wallis casts a fresh look at the frontiersman, storyteller, and politician behind these legendary stories. Born into a humble Tennessee family in 1786, ...more
Hardcover, 380 pages
Published May 16th 2011 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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Matt
“As a man, he was both authentic and contrived. He was wise in the ways of the wilderness and most comfortable when deep in the woods on a hunt, yet he could also hold his own in the halls of Congress…Remarkably, he enjoyed fraternizing with men of power and prestige in the fancy parlors of Philadelphia and New York. Crockett was, like none other, a nineteenth-century enigma. He fought under Andrew Jackson in the ruinous Indian Wars, only later to become Jackson’s bitter foe on the issue of remo ...more
Mike
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Debunks, gently, many of the myths perpetrated around Crockett, including some of his own. Nice to know a few of the things about the Lion of the West, but the book itself was... so-so. A little too pedantic some times, a little to vague at others.

In addition to reading this for my Strenuous Life (non-GR) Biographies challenge, I believe I can count it against my 2020 TBR Challenge, item #1, "inspired by a meme" -- the author cites in the introduction his discoveries that the man David Crockett
...more
Jay Connor
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Though "my" Fess Parker experience was the 1960's TV series "Daniel Boone," Wallis' youth was framed by the mid-50's Walt Disney "Davy Crockett." In his prologue, Wallis goes into great detail about the series and his family's subsequent 1955 summer pilgrimage to all things Crockett throughout Tennessee. I can envision a coon-skin cap hanging from his monitor as he wrote this only passable history.

Wallis accomplishes part of his stated objective. He strips away the legend -- "killed him a b'ar
...more
Terry Cornell
Aug 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, biography
I wasn't part of the original Disney inspired David Crockett craze of the 1950s, but in the 1960s Crockett mania had a resurgence during my generation. The Crockett serial was re-run on 'The Wonderful World of Color'. I also remember going to Disneyland and visiting Frontierland, where coonskin caps were quite the souvenir item. Somewhere in this time-frame my talented mom sewed my own Davy Crockett costume, including a faux coonskin cap for Halloween. The little boy I was would have been disapp ...more
Laura Jean
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating look at the man behind the legend of Davy Crockett.
Bob Costello
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting view of the settlement of the trans-Appalachians from 1800 to 1830s. Crockett a perfect example of a tough and independent character of the Scotch-Irish who were the vanguard of settlement in the early west of American.
John Bond
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
More than all the myths.
Jason
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History buffs, American folklore enthusiasts
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tony Taylor
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very interesting and well researched book on the life of David (Davy) Crockett. It explains away much of the myth about this man that not only crept into the American culture in the 1950s at the height of the Walt Disney Davy Crockett craze, but which also existed even during his own lifetime. David Crockett was a legend in his own time, but he did not go around with a coonskin cap or did he live the life of the popular Disney song. Fortunately he did take it upon himself to write his own auto ...more
Denise
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, biography
Before this book, knew very little about David beyond the TV song and the Alamo. Mr. Wallis does a nice job of filling in the history that enveloped David, as well as some of his exploits and antics. I had not heard of Fort Mims though I did know that tribes and farmers fought. Also did not know of David's political life. Not meant to provide copious detail about the 1812 war, Indian wars, and conflicts with Mexico, this book provides enough to be familiar with the events, as well as Halley's Co ...more
Matthew
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Michael Wallis has written a great biography of David Crockett, that is as much a pleasure to read as it is informative. The biography gives even coverage of Crockett's life and does not favor one time period over another. (For those looking for a bit more on the events concerning the fall of the Alamo, reading this book in conjunction with James Donovan's The Blood of Heroes and Osprey's Essential History: The Texas War of Independence, 1835-1836 is recommended by this reader.)


Wallis' book is
...more
Travis
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Does a nice job of scraping away the 'Legend of Davy Crockett' and showing there was a pretty interesting guy underneath anyway.
Yeah, he was deeply flawed and his own worst enemy in many ways, but still a fascinating look at the man and the times he lived in. Crockett was there through a lot of the post-founding fathers time when the USA was expanding and finding its way.

Brutal reminder that this country was pretty much built on a foundation of blood and there isn't a bit of our history that doe
...more
Eileen
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
This biography was just okay. The problem was that Crockett's life was not all that interesting. Yes he was a famous person in his day, but mainly because as a U.S. Representative he was known for his hunting ability, folksy stories, and his backwoods demeanor, and was the subject of books and plays. In reality his life was filled with moving from farm to farm to find some financial security, trying to stay ahead of his creditors, and long stretches away from his family because he was happiest w ...more
Ilean
Jun 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I decided to read this book after finding out that David Crockett was in my fathers ancestry line. My husband said that he had this book-so I read it. It is not an easy flowing book to read but it is full of facts, and dates and resources. I grew up watching the television Disney show about Davy Crockett, not even my father knew that we were possibly related. But in looking up family members on ancestry. com I discovered that on my father's side of the family that David Crockett was a distant re ...more
Rick Hautala
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
History the way it should be written (other than saying the American Revolution ended with the Battle of Saratoga) ... clear, concise, and one-hundred percent interesting ... Good stuff that dispels myths and makes the real human being even more interesting than the myths ...
Rob Roy
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
We think we know the man, but really we know the man that Fess Parker portrayed. Here is the real Col David Crockett, warts and all. The reality behind the American Myth. This is not a hatchet job, but rather a balanced story of a man’s life, albeit, a man known as the “Lion of the West.”
Fredrick Danysh
Apr 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: texas, biographies
Crockett is the biography of poorly educated frontiersman who built a reputation as a story teller and hunter that carried him into Congress and ultimately to Texas during its revolution. There is a very short section on his Texas sojourn.
Don LaFountaine
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in American history and/or Davy Crockett
Having watched the 1950's Disney Davy Crockett movie over and over, along with the John Wayne portrayal in 1960 movie The Alamo, I knew that my view of this larger than life historical figure was skewed through viewing him through rose colored glasses. I was not sure what to expect with this biography, but was pleasantly surprised by the depth of character Michael Wallis brought out in his subject.

David Crockett, (he never signed his name as Davy) was a complex person who had his strengths and f
...more
Brenden Gallagher
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
In "David Crockett: The Lion of the West," the author quotes Richard Slotkin, who once wrote, "men like Davy Crockett became national heroes by defining national aspiration in terms of so many bears destroyed, so much land preempted, so many trees hacked down, so many Indians and Mexicans dead in the dust."

Michael Wallis, the author of this book adds, "Yet at the same time, Crockett also symbolized the poor and downtrodden whom he had always stood up for throughout his life."

This tension is cent
...more
Justin
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was one of those kids that was captivated with Davy Crockett when I was a little kid. I'm not a 'boomer', I came along just as that era ended, but I saw the Disney movie when I was in the second grade and wanted to read as much as I could about the Alamo and Davy. And I did have a coonskin hat, I even remember getting it at a trading post in Raton New Mexico on my way to Denver.
As an adult I was more curious about his early life and his time in Congress. This book filled me in on everything,
...more
Carolyn Harris
A slow moving biography of David "Davy" Crockett considering the tumultuous events of his life. The author focuses closely on Crockett's genealogy, political career in Tennessee and role in crafting his own public image through commissioning an autobiography and portraits. The Battle of the Alamo is summarized in a few sentences in the final chapter and more historical context should have been included there. The author mentions Crockett's place in 20th century popular culture in the introductio ...more
Brad
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
In the preface, the author advises the reader that this isn't just another chronological biography of Davy Crockett. He then tells a middle-aged Crockett hunting story before rewinding to Crockett's grandparents' history and proceeding to give a straightforward chronological biography of Davy Crockett, ending with his death at the Alamo and his legacy.

Once you get over that bit of disappointment it's a good but not great account of a great American life and the nuance of that life.
BigHeadWalt
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fine book that outlines the hardscrabble life of David Crockett and his "itchy foot" lifestyle, from Virginia to Tennessee to Washington,DC and ultimately his death in the Alamo.
Speculates whether he ran into Alexis de Tocquville, mentions his brief encounter with Daniel Boone's relatives, his difficulties with Andrew Jackson and Jackson's acolytes, and Sam Houston. Spends only the final chapter on the Alamo.

More 3.5 than 4 stars.
Christina Bond
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a well researched book about a larger than life figure whose popularity through The Wonderful World of Disney fueled his legend further. Mr. Wallis goes into detail about David Crockett's life from his parents meeting to his death at the Alamo which is great. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in the famous figures who were larger than life when they were alive but want to separate the truth from the legend.
Edward
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Really enjoyed much of this book, but it ended very abruptly (perhaps fitting, considering).

It was as if the author just got tired of writing, and said, "Oh, that's enough - gonna end this book now."
Edward Sanchez
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This title made me want to read more on the topic of Crockett especially about his experience in the Red Stick War. I enjoyed how it covered his death at the Alamo by presenting both points of view about what could have happened to him at the very end.
Kenneth
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of David Crockett, not Davey Crockett. There is no hype here, and the myths are revealed and disposed of. The author uses what papers are available and paints a picture of the very capable frontiersman and the outsider politician.
Lane Mcdaniel
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audiobook. Wallis paints a vivid picture of Crockett showing him for the legend he is, but also the flawed human side. I thought I knew a lot about his life. I never realized how little I knew. A great book for anyone who wants to go beyond the coonskin cap.
Toby Kriwiel
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
I enjoyed listening to this book on Audible. Crockett has an incredible story. He wasn’t perfect or super-human, he was a man who impacted many (and still does). I appreciate the focus on the truth in the telling of Crockett’s life.
Michael Delaware
Nov 24, 2017 rated it liked it
A very informative and interesting historical account of one of the more unique figures in American history.
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Michael Wallis is the bestselling author of Route 66, Billy the Kid, Pretty Boy, and David Crockett. He hosts the PBS series American Roads. He voiced The Sheriff in the animated Pixar feature Cars. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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