THE OLD WILDERNESS ROAD by William O. Steele

THE OLD WILDERNESS ROAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

How four men (an explorer, a hunter, a trail-blazer, a promoter) made the Wilderness Road the way to the west; how the American became a new man in the process. Focusing on the 200 miles from the Blockhouse in Virginia to Logan's Station, Kentucky, spanning the period from 1749 to 1783, this is amplified history based on the experiences of Doctor Thomas Walker discovering the Cumberland Gap in search of access to a western land grant; Elisha Wallen leading a long hunt along the frontier; Daniel Boone clearing the road so that settlers might proceed to Kentucky, and fighting Indians for the right of way; John Fillson picturing Kentucky as an earthly paradise, Boone as a legend, and thereby huring to the territory men who would safeguard it from the Indians. The first had lived as an English colonial gentleman, the last was an American entreprencur, and a lot of gumption went into the transformation; also considerable know-how (to fashion moccasins, to raise a log cabin, to dress hides, to handle the new long rifle). Like Westward Adventure. this is both more and less than it seems; neither history nor biography in the narrow sense, and not structured for assignments, it may need to be introduced. But Mr. Steele's close identification with the subject(s) yields fresh insights and the fluent narrative follows through.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1968
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World