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Born on a Mountaintop: On the Road with Davy Crockett and the Ghosts of… (2012)

af Bob Thompson

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653307,038 (4.22)Ingen
Traces the author's visits to key areas in the life of Davy Crockett, including the legendary frontiersman's Tennessee River Valley home and the Alamo site in Texas, exploring Crockett's true life and enduring cultural influence. An American icon: Pioneer. Congressman. Martyr of the Alamo. King of the Wild Frontier. As with all great legends, Davy Crockett's has been retold many times, repeatedly reinvented by historians and popular storytellers. In fact, one could argue that there are three distinct Crocketts: the real David, before he became famous; the celebrity politician whose backwoods image Crockett himself created, then lost control of; and the mythic Davy we know today. Bob Thompson follows Crockett's footsteps from his birthplace in East Tennessee, to Washington, where he served three terms in Congress, and on to the Alamo, seeking out those who know, love, and are still willing to fight over his life and legacy. More than just a bold new biography of one of the great American heroes, Thompson's rich mix of scholarship, reportage, humor, and exploration of modern Crockett landscapes brings Davy Crockett's impact on the American imagination vividly to life.--From publisher description.… (mere)

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Frontiersman, politician, and genuine American Icon, Davy Crockett was a legend in his own time. Although his time on Earth was relatively short, just forty-nine years, he achieved much before that fateful battle at the Alamo ended his celebrated life. His legendary status will live on forever, and it will never be equaled in its uniqueness. Author Bob Thompson offers a fascinating look into the blended facts and fallacies of Crockett's life in: "Born on a Mountaintop--On the Road with Davy Crockett and the Ghosts of the Wild Frontier". The author's journey following the course of Crockett's life is intriguing, often surprising, and once again affirms why our true-life heroes deserve a place of honor in our hearts and minds. This is a wonderfully entertaining book for people like me who love American History. Just a shade less enjoyable than the book itself are the "Notes on Sources", which are a mini-book in themselves. My favorite "note" is the one in which the author extols the excellence of a children's CD in which actor Nicolas Cage portrays Davy Crockett. Cage's performance is described as "seamless" (Go Nic!), and hearing the author's description of the CD makes it more than okay to be a kid at heart, wanting to walk in Davy Crockett's footsteps as he made his history-making way across America. Dust off your coonskin cap--fake it if you don't have one--and settle in to get to know the King of the Wild Frontier. You'll be glad you did. Recommended.

Book Copy Gratis Amazon Vine ( )
  gincam | Sep 6, 2019 |
Born on a mountain top in Tennessee,
Greenest state in the land of the free.
Raised in the woods so’s he knew every tree,
Killed him a bear when he was only three.

Davy, Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier.

Just looking at the title of Bob Thompson’s new Davy Crockett book, Born on a Mountaintop, gets me humming this old Disney song from the fifties – even to the point that I have a hard time getting it back out of my head. Men (and probably more than a few women) of a certain age are likely to have fond memories of the five-segment Walt Disney “Disneyland” series that spawned this little tune and all the Davy Crockett gear we managed to wear out between 1955 and 1956. I still remember the coonskin cap I wore everywhere and the little plastic frontier “rifle” I carried with me.

Suddenly, children across America were obsessed by a fabled hero that grabbed our imaginations like nothing had before. Davy’s (as portrayed by actor Fess Parker) face was on so many lunch boxes, magazines, comics, bubble gum cards, coloring books, games, and pajamas that Walt Disney was probably able to pay for most of Disneyland with his company’s share of the sales proceeds. Davy Crockett was that big – and we loved him. Little did most of us suspect, at least at the beginning, that he had been a real man. He really had been a congressman, an Indian-fighter (of a sort), and had died a hero’s death at the Alamo. When we found this out, especially those of us growing up in Texas, we were more enchanted by the idea of Davy Crockett than ever before. The man will be a mythical hero to us for the rest of our lives.

Only later would some of us wonder about David Crockett, the man who transformed himself into “Mythic Davy,” a national celebrity long before he died in San Antonio. Born on a Mountaintop, explores how Crockett managed to achieve that, the key role Walt Disney played in perpetuating the Crockett legend for at least another half century, and what might have really happened at the Alamo.

For author Bob Thompson it all started when his two little girls became obsessed with the Burl Ives version of that old Davy Crockett theme song. Soon, the girls were asking questions about Davy, his nemesis Andrew Jackson, and their shared history. Thompson, in the process of answering their questions, grew fascinated with the “alchemization of history into myth,” and a book idea was born. With many stops along the way, Thompson would walk in Crockett’s footsteps all the way from his east Tennessee birthplace, to where he fought Indians in Alabama with Jackson, to Washington D.C, and, finally, to the Alamo, where Crockett took his final breath.

Crockett, of course, would not survive long in Texas because of his decision to join the Texas army when it was least prepared to defend itself. But, as Thompson notes, from the moment word of his death reached the rest of the country, the real Davy Crockett was forever replaced in the minds of most by the fictional Crockett. And the myth that grew up around Crockett so deeply captured the imagination of Americans that his story would be common knowledge for close to 100 years before finally fading from the public consciousness.

Better timed for Crockett’s was his crossing of paths with another kind of legend, Walt Disney. Disney’s 1955 decision to use Crocket rather than the more conventional choice of Daniel Boone to help publicize the “Frontier Land” section of his new theme park, coincided perfectly with the “arrival” of television. Now, a cultural hero could be created from scratch in just a matter of weeks, and in Crockett’s case, there was so much good stuff to stretch that his myth would become more widely accepted than ever before – and it would endure for at least another half-century.

I am a native Texan. I live within an hour’s drive of the spot (Washington-on-the-Brazos) Sam Houston sat when the call for help arrived from the Alamo defenders. What is left of the Alamo itself is within easy driving range of me. Because their story has been part of my life since I was seven (thanks to Mr. Disney), I tend to give Davy Crockett, William B. Travis, and Jim Bowie stories the benefit of the doubt more times than not. But, when it comes to history, I am also a realist. Born on a Mountaintop re-visits all of the weakest points of the Davy Crockett legend that I have encountered and wondered about over the years. For lack of any real proof, Thompson’s theories about what really happened all those years ago will have to remain just that – theories. However, I feel certain that his theories are closer to the truth than the myths that have grown up around these heroic men.

But, you know what? I think I admire Crockett and the men of the Alamo more than ever because a book like Born on a Mountaintop is a good reminder of what real human beings can accomplish when challenged to do the seemingly impossible.

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee,
Greenest state in the land of the free.
Raised in the woods so’s he knew every tree,
Killed him a bear when he was only three.

Davy, Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier. ( )
  SamSattler | Feb 20, 2013 |
Hit the trail with Davy Crockett one more time. Don't try to tell me you didn't grow up wearing the coonskin cap while watching Davy's adventures on television. If you even read the first line of this review, I know you had to grow up around the legend of Davy Crockett. This book goes well beyond the legends, while still pausing to acknowledge them and appreciate their place in our lives. The author, Bob Thompson imparts to us both the facts and the fiction as he travels the country in pursuit of everything Davy. It is surprising how many Davy Crockett historical sites are to be found throughout this nation. The author does a good job of leading us through the tall tales to the truth about Crockett. At least as close as we can expect to come to the truth about a man who has become a legend. Frontiersman, Indian fighter, homesteader, congressman, heroic legend, Davy Crockett was all of these to one degree or another. Well documented, this would be a good source book if you are interested in delving further into the life of this fascinating man. Book provided for review by Amazon Vine. ( )
  Ronrose1 | Feb 9, 2013 |
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Traces the author's visits to key areas in the life of Davy Crockett, including the legendary frontiersman's Tennessee River Valley home and the Alamo site in Texas, exploring Crockett's true life and enduring cultural influence. An American icon: Pioneer. Congressman. Martyr of the Alamo. King of the Wild Frontier. As with all great legends, Davy Crockett's has been retold many times, repeatedly reinvented by historians and popular storytellers. In fact, one could argue that there are three distinct Crocketts: the real David, before he became famous; the celebrity politician whose backwoods image Crockett himself created, then lost control of; and the mythic Davy we know today. Bob Thompson follows Crockett's footsteps from his birthplace in East Tennessee, to Washington, where he served three terms in Congress, and on to the Alamo, seeking out those who know, love, and are still willing to fight over his life and legacy. More than just a bold new biography of one of the great American heroes, Thompson's rich mix of scholarship, reportage, humor, and exploration of modern Crockett landscapes brings Davy Crockett's impact on the American imagination vividly to life.--From publisher description.

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