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VIRTUAL BOOK TALK: The Taking of Jemima Boone: Colonial Settlers, Tribal Nations, and the Kidnap That Shaped America
Matthew Pearl in conversation with Katherin Grandjean
In his first work of narrative nonfiction, Matthew Pearl, bestselling author of acclaimed novel The Dante Club, explores the little-known true story of the kidnapping of legendary pioneer Daniel Boone’s daughter and the dramatic aftermath that rippled across the nation.
On a quiet midsummer day in 1776, weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, thirteen-year-old Jemima Boone and her friends Betsy and Fanny Callaway disappear near the Kentucky settlement of Boonesboro, the echoes of their faraway screams lingering on the air.
A Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party has taken the girls as the latest salvo in the blood feud between American Indians and the colonial settlers who have decimated native lands and resources. Hanging Maw, the raiders’ leader, recognizes one of the captives as Jemima Boone, daughter of Kentucky's most influential pioneers, and realizes she could be a valuable pawn in the battle to drive the colonists out of the contested Kentucky territory for good.
With Daniel Boone and his posse in pursuit, Hanging Maw devises a plan that could ultimately bring greater peace both to the tribes and the colonists. But after the girls find clever ways to create a trail of clues, the raiding party is ambushed by Boone and the rescuers in a battle with reverberations that nobody could predict. As Matthew Pearl reveals, the exciting story of Jemima Boone’s kidnapping vividly illuminates the early days of America’s westward expansion, and the violent and tragic clashes across cultural lines that ensue.
In this enthralling narrative in the tradition of Candice Millard and David Grann, Matthew Pearl unearths a forgotten and dramatic series of events from early in the Revolutionary War that opens a window into America’s transition from colony to nation, with the heavy moral costs incurred amid shocking new alliances and betrayals.
Matthew Pearl is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. His new book is a work of narrative nonfiction, The Taking of Jemima Boone, from Harper Collins. He is the co-founder of the digital magazine Truly*Adventurous and his nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, The Atavist Magazine, and Slate. His books have been international and New York Times bestsellers translated into more than 30 languages. The Globe and Mail declares him "a writer of rare talents," Library Journal calls Matthew "the reigning king of popular literary historical thrillers," and the New York Daily News raves "if the past is indeed a foreign country, Matthew Pearl has your passport." Matthew has been chosen Best Author for Boston Magazine's Best of Boston and received the Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction.
Katherine Grandjean holds a B.A. in History from Yale University and a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. Her research explores early English colonization and the encounter with Native peoples, as well as the origins of American violence. Her work has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the American Historical Association, and the Charles Warren Center for American History, and has appeared in such journals as the William and Mary Quarterly, American Quarterly, and Early American Studies. A recent essay, “New World Tempests: Environment, Scarcity, and the Coming of the Pequot War,” won the American Society for Environmental History's 2012 Alice Hamilton Prize for Best Article and the William and Mary Quarterly’s 2014 Douglass Adair Memorial Award.
She recently published her first book, American Passage: The Communications Frontier in Early New England. The book retells the story of early New England's settling, through the dark, confused world of communication.
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