Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"David Crockett in Congress" Wins IPPY Award!

I loved this book, and I'm not the only one.  

David Crockett in Congress: The Rise and Fall of the Poor Man's Friend by James R. Boylston and Allen J. Wiener (Bright Sky Press, 2009) has received a 2010 Independent Publisher’s Book Award for Best Regional Non-Fiction.  For fourteen years the Independent Publisher Book Awards have been conducted annually to honor the year's best independently published titles. The "IPPY" Awards reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing.

David Crockett in Congress, says a press release, is the first significant new biography of the famous frontier congressman and Alamo martyr in over a half century.  Crockett emerges as a savvy politician, hardball campaigner and advocate for the poor.  The book is based on Crockett’s own writings and other original documents and appends all of his surviving correspondence, political circulars and key speeches.

The book has received high praise from others as well...

“James R. Boylston and Allen Wiener have done a masterful job of recovering the real David Crockett, a figure of enormous historical significance in the tumultuous and critical Jacksonian age.” —  Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize winning author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.

“. . . offers a fresh look at Davy Crockett's congressional years. . . The authors. . . create a fascinating portrait of ‘the real Crockett.’"  Dallas Morning News

"Boylston and Wiener conclude — and ably demonstrate — that Crockett wasn't the country bumpkin many have thought him to be.”  Austin Statesman

“The best thing on Crockett since William C. Davis's Three Roads to the Alamo.  This book should have long life.” —  Allen Barra, author of Inventing Wyatt Earp

“. . .an extraordinary book.  It should be read by anyone interested in Crockett and politics during the Age of Jackson.  I found a surprisingly more admirable Crockett than the one I though I already knew.”  Wild West History Association Journal

“A true gem, essential for anyone interested in Crockett himself, the Jacksonian milieu, the roots of modern democratic practice.” — Daniel Feller, author, The Jacksonian Promise: America, 1815-1840

“Crockett's political life has never been subject to the close scrutiny it receives here. Boylston and Wiener show him to be a masterly campaigner and astute politician.  They let Crockett speak for himself.”  —  Library Journal 

“. . . the best book on Crockett ever written or compiled  . . .”  Craig Anderson, Our History Project website

“. . . destined to be a valuable resource for researchers studying David Crockett for many years to come.” — K K Searle, texas-history-page.blogspot.com

 Here's a look at the proud authors, Jim and Allen

And just in case you missed it - or are in the mood to read it again - here's an encore presentation of my own review:


When this book was published, I invited co-author Allen Wiener to say a few words about it here on the Almanack (that's HERE). He made it sound like a fine book, and I was anxious to read it. So I ordered a copy.

When it arrived, I was shocked at the size. I’m not sure how I pictured it, but I wasn’t expecting a deluxe hardcover the size of a big city phonebook!

Then I read it, and had still another revelation. You see, folks, this ain’t no ordinary history book. It’s a landmark in Crockett literature. Bottom line? This is the most important Crockett book to appear in over fifty years. I know, because aside from a handful of juvenile biographies and storybooks, I’ve read them all.

Why is it so important? First, it provides a wealth of new scholarship regarding an vital and long overlooked period of Crockett’s life. And second, it introduces us to the real David Crockett in a way never before possible - in his own words.

Wait! you say. Didn’t Crockett write an autobiography? Yes he did, sort of. And it’s a fine read. But he had help. It’s not pure Crockett, and it’s not always as factual as historians would like.

That autobiography was published in 1834, and for the next 122 years, biographers just rehashed the same information. James Atkins Shackford changed all that in 1956, with David Crockett: The Man and the Legend, opening up acres of new territory in Crockett’s life. Most important of these was Crockett’s political career. But while Shackford’s work on that period was groundbreaking, it left me wanting more. I kept expecting someone to dig into the original sources Shackford only alluded to and give us the whole story.

That’s what James Boylston and Allen Wiener have done, and the result is far more than I’d hoped for. The back half of the book delivers all the poop from those original sources - letters, circulars, newspaper articles, and the congressional record. Much of this stuff is in Crockett’s own unvarnished words (complete with lack of punctuation), taking us closer to the real man than we’ve ever been.

The first half of the book puts that information in context, taking us step-by-step through Crockett’s career in Congress. Boylston and Wiener introduce us to all the major players, both friend and foe, and give us a firm grounding in the issues of the day, allowing us to understand what Crockett was up against, and appreciate what his actions revealed about his character.

This is not the Davy we saw on the Disney show. This is the real guy, and we get to know him warts and all. The Crockett that emerges is a different kind of hero, the one hinted at in the book’s subtitle. Whatever troubles came his way (and they were many), Crockett never lost sight of his ideals, and truly was “the Poor Man’s Friend”.

Want more info before you buy? Visit the book’s official website HERE, or watch James and Allen’s 40-minute presentation at the Texas Book Festival, as broadcast by C-SPAN2, HERE.


Deka Black said...

Interesting book. I only knew crockett from his death at Alamo.

Evan Lewis said...

That seems true of a lot of folks, Deka. But he had a life, too, and a mighty interesting one.

Harold Scanlon said...

I have this book. It provides a wealth of new information about Crocketts' life, and new insight into his character. That award is well deserved.

Ron Scheer said...

Thanks for this. My favorite Davy Crockett motto: "Be always sure you are right, then go ahead."

Evan Lewis said...

I'm sorta fond of that one myself, Ron.

Richard said...

Wonderful news!

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