SONS OF A TRACKLESS FOREST ... by MARK A BAKER
NEW BOOK FROM MARK ... A PILGRIM'S JOURNEY!
SONS OF A TRACKLESS FOREST ... The Cumberland Long Hunters Of The Eighteenth Century
The solitary woodsman of the colonial frontier who traveled beyond maps and into the deepest of a dark and deceptive wilderness is an image firmly rooted in American culture. In a variety of story lines found in both print and film, this linen-and leather-clad individual passes freely between the European and Indian worlds, yet he stands squarely between the encroachment of the British powers and the untouched garden of the American Indian. He resists the coming of settlement and ignores the enticements of the most powerful, yet he rescues the very individuals who will one day destroy his personal Eden. He yearns for lasting peace in his wilderness home, yet he becomes the most brutal of warriors when such a peace is threatened. Such a complex and attractive natural man personifies the paradox of the westward movement in American History.
This, from the dust jacket liner notes, in a nutshell tells us what this book is all about. It takes the myth of our frontier mythical heroes (i.e. Hawkeye), the reality of their real-life famous counterparts (i.e. Daniel Boone), sifts the chafe from the wheat, and gives life - and MEANING to the lives - of the countless faceless men who lived in the very real world of the wilderness frontier. Filling a huge void in the history of the period, and particularly the geographical region, Mark A. Baker, the man who assiduously taught Daniel Day-Lewis to load his rifle & shoot, while on the run, for our beloved The Last of the Mohicans, breathes much needed life into the men who spear-headed the thrust of the advancing European life-way into the depths of this continent. And, it's a good thing they did, because by trading, mingling, intermarrying, and fighting with the established population, they aided in the retention of some of the ways, manners & customs of the eastern woodland American Indian tribes, before the flood that followed washed much away. The book blends fact & fiction to re-define the original frontier hero and make him, not only real, but identifiable.
As manifested through the exploits of Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton, not even the best of the long hunters could always live up to the stalwart images perpetuated through early America's popular culture or in the fictional tales of writers like Cooper. The woodsmen of the colonial frontier did not possess the perfect abilities, or the consummate blend of Indian and so-called civilized notions of morality, justice and good judgement that Hawkeye consistently exhibits throughout the five epic novels. Rather, the woodsmen, who ventured into the western regions of Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Carolinas, and those who eventually poured over into the Kentucky and Tennessee wilderness, came out of several different cultures; and thus, judged the world through a myriad of codes, a complex blend of morality, and faced the challenges with a wide spectrum of wilderness talent. Understandably, some European heritages adapted to the wilderness life quicker than others. But once again, none of the cultures from which any of the frontiersmen came melded perfectly with the Indian culture as does Cooper's hero, Hawkeye. Rather, any direct influence of an Indian culture on any of the frontiersmen usually happened only as a result of skirmishes, warfare, or the woodsman's capture and subsequent adoption into one of the various Woodland Indian tribes.
Through the careful use of first & second hand documents, Mark is able to reconstruct various phases of the lives of these long hunters. Put to particularly good use are the records of the traders who supplied much of the necessities of the wilderness to these men. Brought to vivid life are such men as Henry Skaggs, Elisha Walden & William Baker ... to name a few ... the real-life parallels to Hawkeye. The complex tapestry of these men's struggle for survival in the unknown wilderness of the Cumberland woodlands is exposed for all of us to understand and appreciate. It is a saga long begging to be told. No longer will we have to rely on Fess Parker's Daniel Boone TV series (the original inspiration for Mark's lifelong passion) for our view of the frontiersmen, for Mark has uniquely changed our view forever. Mark does not JUST depend on the written record for his work ... he practices a technique known as "experimental archaeology," whereby he actually LIVES the life of the people he is writing about. Mark knows, first-hand, that practices mentioned in the various records, letters and accounts used as his primary sources actually work. Mark A. Baker is, very much, a contemporary long hunter ...
The massive, 10 year long project, resulted in nearly 550 pages of narrative, followed by exhaustive notes, a comprehensive index, and, perhaps best of all, a thumbnail chronology - from 1672 through 1838 - that places the people into the context of historical events. Profusely illustrated, and including maps, charts, letters & other visual aids, Mark's always easy-to-read style blends perfectly with the physical attributes of the book. It just plain feels good in your hands! Such is the quality of the paper stock.
If you are at all interested in delving into the times of days gone-by ... the era in which The Last of the Mohicans actually takes place ... if you want to learn what it was REALLY like to "hack it out of the wilderness" - stripped of the romanticism ... if you want to hear the story from those who lived it told by one who has practiced it, Sons of a Trackless Forest will make a handsome addition to your bookshelf. Highly recommended!
"Sons of a Trackless Forest" is a 6 1/4" x 9 1/4", 992 page, 8 chapter work that includes a foreword by artist David Wright (who also created the cover illustration), a preface, an introduction, 10 appendices including original document transcripts, interesting end notes, and an index. There are 159 illustrations including 18th century maps, 19th century letters and illustrations, and various items from the Morgan collection. This extensively researched tale of the Cumberland long hunters is an impressive work on an integral element of the colonial era; those "sons of a trackless forest" who are deeply ingrained in the American psyche.
To Read The Story Of Mark's Involvement With The Last of the Mohicans, Go To: ON THE TRAIL WITH ... MARK A. BAKER
To View, And Purchase, Prints By Artist H. David Wright, Use The Link Below ...