Boone: A Biography

A true woodsman, a pioneer and a reluctant icon is Daniel Boone in this informative biography.

Here is the legendary man, who wanted nothing more than to venture into the woods and hunt, fish and find his own peace.

Amid it all, he became a leader, helped set up several towns, made the Cumberland Gap to the West better known, and helped push the western boundary of the United States further west, all before the 1800s.

He paradoxically respected the natives (and was captured and lived as one of them for one stretch), but his actions helped push them out of their own land.

This book offers up a good look at the natives also, not as proto-hippies living at one with the land, but as they really were – sometimes brutal, sometimes big-hearted, sometimes cannibalistic. These were real people, not idealized tree-huggers. Humans, not angels.

But that’s the truth of each side – neither entirely pure nor entirely evil. Atrocities on both sides, and sometimes Boone is caught up between two groups.

Through it all, he just wants to live his life and settle his continuing, massive debts. As he finally reaches the end, he finds peace and leaves a tremendous legacy.

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography

Melancholy.

That seems to sum up Charles Schulz’s life in one word. For a man known as “Sparky” who created so much joy for millions through Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock, Lucy, Linus and the gang, he himself was never very happy.

This book covers the cartoonist’s whole life, loves (yes, including an unattainable little red-haired girl), highs, lows and all.

There really is a sadness to his life that comes through this book. It grounds him and gives the reader sympathy for him, but it’s an unrelenting sadness that makes sometimes makes for difficult reading. I guess that means it was true to his life – although some of Schulz’s kids apparently have taken issue with his portrayal in the book.

But back to Peanuts – you’ll learn how he encountered not one but three Charlie Browns in his life, one Linus, and a dog named Snupi. And a little person at his work that seems to be the inspiration for the iconic look of his characters.

Toward the end, Sparky may have found if not happiness at least some measure of contentment. But it didn’t last as cancer quickly took his life.

Peppered with comic strips (some duplicates too, oddly), this is an enlightening read.

The Day of the Barbarians: The Battle That Led to the Fall of the Roman Empire

Here’s a book that held some promise, and for me came up short.

It’s about the slow fall of the Roman Empire, and seemed it would be predicated upon the loss of one decisive battle with Barbarian hordes … but upon reading, that’s not what happened at all.

So why does this title portray it as such?

This is much more the account of how the Romans allowed the Barbarians to take them over slowly – hiring them as soldiers when the Roman people wouldn’t fight, etc.

Conflict rose, the hired soldiers fought, joined with their brethren entering the empire (who were allowed in to farm), and then they won some key battles.

So was it all over for the empire then? No. The slide began (and had already begun), but it was hundreds of years before the Empire was done.

So why is it portrayed as a decisive, empire-ending battle? Maybe to get you to read the book!

It was short, and made me want to learn more about the Roman Empire. But this isn’t a great starting point if you want a deep dive into history.

The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football

So I thought I’d read about the Dallas Cowboys upon the occasion of their 60th anniversary, hoping to celebrate a good season to come.

The team at this moment is 1-3 and we’re heading for another mediocre year … again.

But it weren’t always this way, as this book shows.

This book follows the team from its creation until the glory years of the ’70s, the slide of the ’80s, the return to glory of the ’90s, and the fair-to-middlin’ years since. The book, published around the 50th anniversary, ends with the coming of Bill Parcells and Tony Romo, and was filled with hope.

Sounds an awful lot like today, with Mike McCarthy and Dak Prescott. I hope it ends better.

This book presents warts and all, which is a fair way to present the team. Along with the highs of Staubach and Lilly and Dorsett and Smith and Aikman, there are the lows of Bob Hayes’ drug arrests, Michael Irvin and Pete Gent and Lance Rentzel and Rafael Septien … read up if you don’t know.

It’s a good look at a legendary team with millions of fans and millions more of haters. A good read.