Daniel Boone Wanted a Gun (Updated with Book Title)

This is an excerpt from chapter of a fictional life of Boone published in 1943, and meant for children, especially boys. If you have had the poor luck to have looked for books for children in today’s marketplace, you know what they’re like: every single one of them is a Disney princess tale, full of magical doings, and packed with a cast of characters assembled according to the college-brochure checklist: Bennetton-ad, skin-tone diversity. In the end, triumph comes to those who really want it really bad, because life is all about having all your desires magically met, because You are a Unique and Special Snowflake™.

Seriously, if you want to understand Generation Snowflake’s incompetence at real life, start with their grade-school indoctrination. In 1943, there were no such illusions, and the grade-school indoctrination was both (1) written at what is now high-school level, and (2) eucivic rather than dyscivic in nature. Imagine the freakage from Gun Ban Barbie and your own town biên-pensant busybodies if the school library contained a book with this:

It was November second, 1746, and it was Daniel’s twelfth birthday. He was twelve years old. Now he should get the gun his father had promised him. His brothers had received their guns when they were twelve.

But maybe he wouldn’t after all. He knew his father didn’t have the money to buy one. He was afraid he didn’t have enough skins to trade.

Hunting had been bad all fall. It had turned cold early in October. There had been several bad snowstorms. A deep snow covered the ground now and it was still very cold.

The fur-bearing animals—beavers, foxes, martins and weasels—were hidden away in caves. If they came out, none of the hunters around Exeter had seen them.

It was their skins the traders wanted most.

Daniel was afraid they wouldn’t take deer skins for a gun; their fur wasn’t thick enough. And, so far as he knew, deer skins were all his folks had.

His brothers had been hunting several times this fall but they had killed nothing but deer. At least that’s all they mentioned.

So what chance had he to get a gun? No game, no skins. No skins, no gun. And to make things worse, some of the boys were coming to see his gun this morning.

He hoped the snow would keep them at home but he knew it wouldn’t. Hadn’t he walked miles through snow to see Joe’s and Paul’s new guns?

Of course, the whole gun thing would make Snowflake’s mom go all Trigglypuff in a public school board meeting, but that’s the least of this book’s sins. Someone who Read Until Offended would probably protest its depiction of Indians, but the depiction is actually well balanced, and is taught by young Daniel becoming infatuated by what he sees as the superiority of the Indians’ way of life, only to learn that the natives are different and deserve respect, and one can’t merely project his own cultural norms on to them.

Likewise, it’s interesting to consider the way in which the book describes young Daniel learning to hide in the woods, find direction, read sign, and track, and how his parents and other adults explain to him how he cannot go to the woods alone until he is old enough, because it is dangerous. Compare that to what parents today teach their kids about dangers, and you can’t help but conclude we’ve had three-quarters of a century to inculcate the reflexive, but ineffective, responses of possums and ostriches to threats. A thousand sad demises recounted in the Where Guns are Outlawed columns here can be explained by comparing the feeble children’s literature of today to the robust children’s literature of the 1940s.

This book turned up at the town swap shop, with a perfect-penmanship inscription awarding it to a boy in 1948, as a reward for five years’ perfect attendance at a mainline Protestant church’s Sunday school. (That same church has no Sunday school any more, but the female pastor and her wife fight the Social Justice War, with their turkey baster babies alongside them. What’s today’s equivalent of that 1948 kid going to amount to, when Sunday School was holding a Hillary! sign in the cold, and trying to keep both mommies from ending it all late that night; and Daddy was a turkey baster?)

You want to know whether Daniel got his rifle, right, and if so, what he did with it? Entire chapter attached: Daniel Boone’s First Gun.pdf .

You want to know why many of our young people lack the character of our grandparents? Start with the books. Start with the culture.

Update

Apologies to all for not identifying the book in the initial post. It was Daniel Boone, Boy Hunter by Augusta Stevenson. It is from a series called Childhood of Famous Americans, and to my amazement it is still in print! You can get a paperback at Amazon for $7. One hopes it has not been bowdlerized. Many other books are in the series, including Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver. Some are in print and some are not.

59 thoughts on “Daniel Boone Wanted a Gun (Updated with Book Title)

    1. LSWCHP

      I couldn’t help myself, and I clicked on that link, which I now regret.

      The worst thing is the book reviews. Vile “cisgender non-binary choice equity is wunnerful” nonsense.

      Sometimes I think the world really is coming to an end.

      Reply
  1. Air

    Hmmm, my father was 12 or so in 1943… I received my Winchester Model 270, .22 LR, pump action on my 12th birthday. I need to ask what books he liked to read as kid.

    Mossberg 500 12 GA on my 14th Christmas, that’s when I could get a “real” hunting license…

    Reply
  2. Matt

    I wonder if, on the whole, this cultural shift was intentional or simply that we have enjoyed the easiest period of living in history and it has given parents the ability to take the understandable impulse to make their kids’ lives easier and safer too far. As they say: easy living makes soft men, soft men make hard times, hard times make hard men, hard men make good times – repeated ad nauseum.

    Reply
  3. Kelly Mangol

    I was born in 1972. I consider myself to be of the last generation of real “men” born in this country. No offense to men born after me, but the fact is that things were just different. I was actually taught, in public school mind you, that our country is great and that the founding of our nation was just and even miraculous. I can remember being in the first grade in a DeKalb County, Atlanta, Georgia public school and watching a film called “The Spanish Gun”. It was a story about pilgrims who were trying to eek out a living in the “new world” here in America. The father had to leave his family for a reason that I do not recall. He left is oldest son in charge and told him to protect everyone until he got back. Indians attacked their cabin. The boy got the blunderbuss off of the wall. The film showed the blunderbuss being used to literally blow the Indians to pieces. Do you think that they are still showing this movie, today!? Me neither. If you wanted to join a sports team, that was fine, but there was no trophy for “showing up”. You played your best, score was kept and by God there were winners AND losers. Fathers still taught their sons how to fight and how to defend themselves against “bullies”. Nobody called the police because kids got into it in the school yard. I was thirteen when my dad bought me that Marlin Model 25 .22 rifle. I still have it today and still take squirrels with it. The left has often stated that the so called “gun culture” is to blame for crime. Why can’t they understand that the culture that they are lamenting is the American Culture. I remember growing up in the Reagan years and feeling the pride of being an American. The past 8 years have been a real pain, having to watch this pathetic administration try to “fundamentally change” what our founders sacrificed to create. I have a lot of hope for the incoming administration and can’t wait to see them get to work.

    Reply
  4. Keith

    I graduated from a Baptist Christian High School in 1983. In the library there was a book on the Korean War battle at Chip-Young Ni in 1951. I must have read it a dozen times and it helped spark my interest in history. I doubt you would find that book in a high school library today.

    Reply
  5. Boat Guy

    I have been looking recently. I started with the Caldecott winners of the 50’s. I’ve also been acquiring “Landmark” books – they’re running about $8-10 per

    Reply
  6. medic09

    “Gun thing”? “GUN thing”? Forget the “gun thing”! What about all those poor little Bambies?! The Boones were such barbarians! Killing deer?! And cute little furry creatures that get so cold they have to hide in cute little caves and burrows from big, bad humans? WHAT’s WRONG with you?????

    Reply
    1. Toastrider

      Heh, I know you’re being sarcastic, but Disney still has a lot to answer for. Particularly in regards to deer, who are (a) stupid and (b) unusually aggressive when in heat.

      Reply
      1. Mike_C

        Stupid and unusually aggressive when in heat describes any number of human-type persons as well. Especially after liberal application of judgment juice.

        Reply
  7. QuietMan

    I remember reading that in elementary school in the 70s. It was WV and, thanks be to God, we were 30 years behind the times. Men teachers wore ties. The ladies wore dresses. Both had steel spines and iron fists.

    Modern classroom conduct is one reason we home schooled our kids for several years. Apparently it worked. We enrolled the three of them in off post schools at one point. A week later they were demanding to be home schooled due to classroom disruptions.

    Reply
  8. medic09

    On a more serious note, a story was oft-repeated by my folks that I don’t recall because I was so young. My father came home first from teaching school (both my parents were teachers), and I tearfully ran to him complaining that our day-housekeeper had walloped me with my own shoe? All my father wanted to know was, “what did you do to deserve it?” Well, little Medic had gone down to the river all alone to play; of course leaving Mrs. W in a total panic that her charge was dead somewhere in the woods. But that’s what kids did back then – played happily all day by the river jumping on rocks and catching crayfish and using dough balls to entice the fish. Or wandering in the woods and getting lost and finding their way again. And climbing high up trees far enough to get hurt or killed if someone fell, and gathering acorns and an endless list of other outdoor have-fun and be-challenged activities.

    And that was all in Suburbia. Kids who really lived out-of-town of course knew so much more!

    Maybe that’s why by the time I enlisted I knew to bring some good quality stuff sacks to protect my gear inside a cheap pack, and why I had and knew how to use my own compass when we started orienteering exercises. So many of my childhood memories take place in the local woods, and later further afield; and reading good, inspiring and challenging books – of course.

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  9. Inventive

    Pretty sure I read that book growing up in the 90s, at least the story sounds familiar. It was part of a collection my parents bought us to read. “Childhood of Famous Americans”. Which are apparently still printed… I wonder if the story has been edited…

    I don’t see that you mentioned an author, but if it was Augusta Stevenson, then it’s the same book.

    Reply
  10. Jack Feldman

    Can you tell us the title and author? I have 6 grandchildren (2 families) and would like to find a couple of copies.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  11. DSM

    That story is full of ethics (the right and wrong when hunting, having the power to do so but not the entitlement, taking only what you need), respect (you mind your Ma when she calls and be thankful) and community service (you may have had a day off of chores but you’re still expected to be productive) rolled up in an entertaining story that a young boy could relate and aspire to. I long for simpler times.

    Reply
  12. SAM

    Growing up in the 70’s and early 80’s the books I liked were:

    The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall
    Chas has the second-best collection of war souvenirs in town, and he desperately wants it to be the best. When he stumbles across the remains of a German bomber crashed in the woods—its machine-gun still intact—he grabs his chance. He sets up a anti-aircraft base.
    This was filmed (it’s on Youtube) as a six parter by the BBC (UK) in the late 70’s.
    No way they would be doing that now, a kid with a machine-gun.

    The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
    Alone and fending for themselves in a Poland devastated by World War Two, Jan and his three homeless friends cling to the silver sword as a symbol of hope. As they travel through Europe towards Switzerland, where they believe they will be reunited with their parents, they encounter many hardships and dangers.
    Early in the book one of the teens gets a rifle and shoots at the NAZI’s.
    It was filmed by the BBC (UK) in 1957 and again in 1971 but I don’t think it’s been repeated.
    Can you see them doing a children book nowadays where the hero shoots anyone?

    Noah’s Castle by John Rowe Townsen
    Norman Mortimer sees the coming troubles and decided to make contingency plans. The family move to a house that has extensive cellars and begins stockpiling supplies.
    It was written as Norman Mortimer was the baddie for storing food for his family but the author when he went around schools he found out that the children always see him as the hero for looking out for his family – the author still can not understand this.
    It was filmed as a six prater by in 1980 by Southern television , it’s out on DVD.

    Reply
  13. Scott

    For me, I remember reading My Side of the Mountain.

    The fact that I now own a side of a mountain is doubtless coincidental.

    (I did substitute 11″ thick insulated concrete walls for a hollowed out tree. Getting soft, I suppose. I lack the metabolism of a youth, there is that too.)

    Reply
    1. SAM

      I forgot about My Side of the Mountain or it would have made the list.
      I read about the Little Britches series on Rawles site some weeks ago they are on my to buy list.

      Reply
    2. Ken

      I loved that book. I must have read it at least a half dozen times.
      Born 1960 and was an avid reader starting about age ten.

      Any number of similar novels and the Herter’s catalog fueled hours of my imagination.
      I had expeditions planned to the nth degree.

      Reply
  14. SemperFido

    Sad commentary on our society bro. And so accurate. I read that book in the 60’s along with other violence porn about Davy Crockett, the Alamo, Dave Bowie and all the war stories I could find in the Catholic school library.
    Biggest mistake we ever made was to allow the commies to take over our schools.
    I avoided that problem with my own children by homeschooling them. But unfortunately, I can’t do much for the grandkids except try to open their eyes some when I get to see them.
    I still see the Balkans in our future.

    Reply
  15. Elaine

    Recommended reading for any age, the Little Britches series of books by Ralph Moody. There are eight books in the series. They start when he is about age eight (1908) and continue until his twenties I think. Very, very good books, easy reads, will make you feel very lazy. Ought to be read by every school kid.

    Reply
  16. g.grass

    i am not proud to admit that i may belong to the millennial cesspit of hedonism and retardation.
    but i grew on south america so i have been thinking about the educational issues and cultural degradation we experience here.
    hell i will even admit that only the white middle,upper and high class is literate at all,most of the mestizos or rotos as the slur goes as they can not be fixed nor stripped of the genetically limits they have on most intellectual pursuits.
    even when adopted and raised in different places like Europe the non whites here are unable to learn to effectively read or write,as here some studies have proved there are scum that is able to use around only 500 words to ¨communicate¨.
    i have seen not so poor people here,that while not living as slum dwellers or welfare leeches they do not even have one single example of a written text in their homes,not even porn magazines or tech manuals.
    while there are over 2000 books in my house alone,my bedroom sporting a nifty collection of old books of any sort,some chemistry manuals dating from the 1860 so if i get some basic lab gear i could make several grades of black powder alone.
    may i ask if the cultural degradation is as marked there? or i am just unlucky to be forced to live in this cesspit.

    Reply
  17. John M.

    Lamplighter Books has some excellent ones. Trigger warning: They are an explicitly Christian publisher, though not all books are explicitly Christian. And a bit spendy.

    Honey for a Child’s Heart is a book of good book recommendations for children.

    And Newbery award winners pre-about 1970 are also good bets.

    -John M.

    Reply
    1. Boat Guy

      Great suggestion too. I bought the 1956 Newberry Medal “Carry On Mr. Bowditch” for my grandson and have a list of others.

      Reply
  18. Tom Stone

    I read that book in the 1960’s and got a ‘Western Field .22 when I was 12.
    Despite the fact that my parents were old style Berkeley Liberals ( They met at UC) my childhood fare was RL Stevenson and Joseph Conrad.
    Manners were not optional and my cover still comes off automatically when I walk indoors, and there was no equivocation about the need to fight for what was right, and that was the entire Bill of Rights. Although my daughter is being raised in a town with a ‘Green” city council ( I’m not sure if “Green” refers to their trust funds or their envy) it is a small town in a rural area and the realities of Nature are obvious. There are plenty of hunters, farmers and commercial fishermen in my circle and I’m happy to say that the History teacher at the local HS is irredeemably old school and outspoken.

    Reply
  19. MD

    The Daniel Boone book would have fit perfectly in my childhood library. Beside works by Jack London, Mark Twain, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

    Reply
  20. RHT447

    I tried to find a quote to cut and paste, but it seems my Google-fu is not up to the task. So, as best I can remember—

    “When students ask me what gun they should bring, I tell them to bring the gun your father gave you. We are distressed at how many students apparently don’t have fathers.”
    Jeff Cooper

    Reply
  21. Bill Robbins

    Just give the little buggers a pile of big picture books full of black-and-white photos of WWII armaments, with little captions at the bottom of each photo, and the kids will be fine. That’s pretty much all that I “read” back in elementary school, during the 60s. Some biographical profiles about Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, and also, and a book about “David Ben-Gurion and the Birth of Israel,” would also be good.

    Reply
  22. ToastieTheCoastie

    Foreget 1943, it’s shocking for young me to even read books from 1990. So much less PC even then.

    Reply
  23. raven

    I frequent used bookstore, as I suspect many of you do. even a “Boys Life ” magazine from the 60’s or 70’s is culturally worlds apart from where we are now. The pap being served up to boys these days is an obscene affront to males.

    Reply
    1. Mike_C

      >used bookstore, as I suspect many of you do
      Trying to cut down*. The living room has five Ikea tall “Billy” bookcases filled with books, my study has two more Billys, herself’s study three (she has the larger study), and there’re still a few dozen bankers’ boxes filled with books, not to mention the neat stacks of books on the stairway. It’s like a bibliophile Habitrail (and probably a fire hazard).

      >magazine from the 60’s or 70’s is culturally worlds apart from where we are now
      Yeah. I just picked up some circa 1890’s and 1900’s elementary school general history textbooks at a couple of used bookstores, including one from the Kittery, Maine schools (near our host’s AO, but purchased at a thrift store in Manchvegas-on-the-Merrimack [local reference]). Haven’t had the chance to go through them yet, but I suspect the 100+ year old books are much closer to circa 1970’s text books than the 70’s books are to now.

      The rot’s not limited to boys’ books. I was helping an aspiring nursing student with her “Introduction to US Health Care Policy” class recently (she works as an health aide for my dad, so I want to keep her happy) and the text book was filled with statist propaganda presented as God’s own truth. I don’t mind editorializing, but do insist that people in positions of putative authority (academics, press, etc) clearly identify their opinions versus objective facts.

      *cutting down: not very successfully, obviously. /hangs head in shame

      Reply
  24. 6pounder

    I remember reading a very good series as a child with the heading–We were there at, etc. etc.
    It was a great series about a young boy and girl who happened to be at places like Valley Forge, Pearl Harbor, and many other famous events in our history. I learned a lot from these as they were written as historical fiction.
    On that note I started collecting up old school library books years ago when our children were small so they would have plenty of quality reading material and now the grandkids can enjoy them too. Most are beat up but still very readable.

    Reply
    1. ToastieTheCoastie

      I remember the We Were There series too. Very decent. The same folks had a “The Story of” series with bios on about every famous American and world historical figure you could think of.

      Reply
      1. Boat Guy

        I’ll put the “We Were There” series on the list too! Perfect stuff; ‘pears they were published between 1955 and 1963.

        Reply
          1. John M.

            Henty books are excellent, but get a little didactic for younger readers. Starting at age 12 or so they should be good if they’re interested in history.

            -John M.

  25. Tom Stone

    I recommend any Children’s book by Gary Paulsen and his memoirs are among the best writing I have encountered.
    ‘Winterdance” is really two books about his experience running the Iditarod in his 40’s and some passages are among the funniest in American literature.

    Reply
  26. Mike

    I’ll second the request for title and author; I don’t want to buy a dozen books on Amazon searching for The One!

    Reply
  27. TBoone

    Thanks for the Dan’l Boone book info. I have Nieces & Nephews with young readers. I will only give out books I trust because of all the reasons already given.

    The Biggest Crime against young minds (bigger than the offense that ‘PC passes’ as literature) is the systematic teaching ‘process’ which sucks all the Joy & Wonder out of learning to read. It has been ‘dumbed down’ by ditching the fundamental building block of Phonic and a misplaced focus on “sight words”. Which is OK until it’s not. Meaning it keeps kids ‘comfortable’ with simple words that can be taught by teacher. Instead of giving kids the tools to go forth on their own & tackle/master bigger words. Even “Foreign” words.

    I despise this evil. Dramatically even.

    I found what seems to be a well thought out Phonics Reading Program from the 60’s. A Dr Charles Walcott. I read through some of it and it seems logical and practical. Here is the link:

    http://www.donpotter.net/education_pages/through_the_phonics_barrier.html

    Reply
    1. raven

      Taught my kid to read driving on errands. Way before she went to school.. “See that red sign? What the first letter?” “I don’t know, daddy! ”
      “that’s an “S”. See how it’s all squiggly like a snake? Snake starts with “S” too! Sounds like ” SSSSSsss”
      do that for a few months, letters, then simple words, then more complex words, and make a game of it and pretty soon the child can read. And read a chapter to them every night. And it is fun.
      Problem is, they can get bored when they get into the system…..

      Reply
  28. runalltheway

    Henry Treece
    Ronald Welch
    Alfred Duggan

    All great children’s authors from the 1950s. My Dad made sure I was fed on a steady diet of them growing up. ‘Man with a Sword’ by Welch is still good enough that I reread it recently and was impressed.

    Reply
  29. Combat Adj

    One of my favorite books from my school library was a picture book of photos and information of Korean War-era US small arms, probably published in the early 60s. There was another book in the same series on military jets of the same period. I regret not buying a copy when I ran across one at a garage sale or used bookstore some years ago.

    This was in a public elementary school library in the 80s. Zero chance any such book is there today.

    Reply
    1. Scipio Americanus

      Combat Adj, you may be thinking of some of C.B. Colby’s books, specifically:

      https://www.amazon.com/Our-fighting-jets-C-Colby/dp/B0007E31P0/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484087098&sr=1-6&keywords=C.B.+Colby

      and

      https://www.amazon.com/Arms-our-fighting-men-Colby/dp/B0007E4WJ4/ref=sr_1_48?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484087180&sr=1-48&keywords=C.B.+Colby

      His books on aircraft were among my favorites in the elementary school library. I always thought it was funny that the older a book there (or in the HS library) was, the more interesting I found it. Thank God no one had cleaned out the collections in decades, so that when I came through in the 90s there were still many fine midcentury books gathering dust in the back. Like buried treasure!

      Reply
  30. TF-BA

    In addition to holdovers like what you posted, I was raised on a constant diet of Choose Your Own Adventure books, where you needed to rescue your friend / girl, and escape the communist zombie mad scientist with nothing more than some bed sheets and a folding knife purchased for $5 from Ace Hardware. Or you could just get dead and start over.

    Reply
  31. Daniel

    I tried to hit my library for some of the GA Henty books but they only have downloadable ebooks and I want my 11 and 9 year old to read more physical books. I’ll have to hit up the used book store.

    Reply
  32. Mike in Boston

    As a parent of three kids under seven, I am grateful for the book suggestions. Till now I’ve done well buying big batches of Little Golden books on eBay and chucking anything newer than the mid-70s, which really seems to be when the cultural rot started to set in. But now that my nearly-seven-year-old is ready for meatier stuff, it has been hard to find worthwhile books quickly enough to keep up. There’s a market out there for a ready-made library of time-tested kids’ books rooted in a healthy culture, but until I find a library like that for sale, I’ll certainly be picking up, onesy-twosy, the ones mentioned above. If anyone has some suggestions that skew just slightly younger, I would sure appreciate them.

    Reply
  33. James F.

    I have a slightly later version (PDF in nick) with, I think, the same text, but later illustrations. This one was still unbowdlerized in 1986.

    I’m not sure if they could bowdlerize it, since it concerns young people with sharp objects and firearms surrounded by hostile native Americans.

    They’d just have to depublish it, and substitute the sad story of the good little wolf that was about to be killed by the white men, when Running Bear’s tribe came in with their scalping knives and saved him.

    Reply

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