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The Pioneers

James Fenimore Cooper

Book Overview: 

The Pioneers: The Sources of the Susquehanna; a Descriptive Tale is one of the Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper.
The story takes place on the rapidly advancing frontier of New York State and features a middle-aged Leatherstocking (Natty Bumppo), Judge Marmaduke Temple of Templeton, whose life parallels that of the author’s father Judge William Cooper, and Elizabeth (the author Susan Cooper), of Cooperstown. The story begins with an argument between the Judge and the Leatherstocking over who killed a buck, and as Cooper reviews many of the changes to his fictional Lake Otsego, questions of environmental stewardship, conservation, and use prevail. The plot develops as the Leatherstocking and Chingachgook begin to compete with the Temples for the loyalties of a young visitor, Oliver Effingham. Effingham eventually marries Elizabeth. Chingachgook dies, exemplifying the vexed figure of the “dying Indian,” and Natty vanishes into the sunset. For all its strange twists and turns, ‘The Pioneers’ may be considered one of the first ecological novels in the United States.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Here he generally stayed a week; and was reputed to spend much of that time in riotous living, greatly countenanced by Mr. Richard Jones. But every one loved him, even to Remarkable Pettibone, to whom he occasioned some additional trouble, he was so frank, so sincere, and, at times, so mirthful. He was now on his regular Christmas visit, and had not been in the village an hour when Richard summoned him to fill a seat in the sleigh to meet the landlord and his daughter.

Before explaining the character and situation of Mr. Grant, it will be necessary to recur to times far back in the brief history of the settlement.

There seems to be a tendency in human nature to endeavor to provide for the wants of this world, before our attention is turned to the business of the other. Religion was a quality but little cultivated amid the stumps of Temple’s Patent for the first few years of its settlement; but, as most of its inhabitant. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I actually liked this! While reading the reviews that others had written, I was a bit concerned that perhaps I would not, but I think, since I read it out of order (this one first), I did not expect the great adventures the others seem to have. I enjoyed being able to see our country's youth throug

The best books by James Fenimore Cooper to read are old ones. Naturally, there will never be any new Cooper books so I mean the best editions to read are those from your local public library: specifically the ones no one has touched in 30 years. According to the circulation card in the back of the c

Lately, I've been seeing much honor being given to a recently deceased author whose famous "10 Rules of Writing" stress the importance of fast, non-descriptive, skip-the-boring parts narrative. It warms me to know this late author would have hated James Fenimore Cooper's "The Pioneers", as would his

This is my second reading of this novel. One reason I chose it now is because the story begins on Christmas Eve 1793 in a settlement named Templeton begun by a Judge named Marmaduke Temple (based on James Fenimore Cooper's father William Cooper, a Judge who started the Central New York Settlement of

I'm going to assert with some confidence that this is the earliest novel to take conservationism as its theme, and considering it is 200 years old, that is quite an accomplishment (while his contemporaries were only just awakening to the destructive side of the Industrial Revolution, Cooper already

The Pioneers was a pleasant surprise to me after seeing all the negative reviews it had received. Cooper is not in most respects a master writer, but much criticism of him is unwarranted - driven by modern readers whose impatience and captivity to more modern, sensational forms blinds them to his re

It's impossible to imagine books like this being produced in this nation ever again. One wonders if the Americans of that day would recognize us as their countrymen. Cooper himself seems to recognize this transformation, as Natty and Mohegan are nearly as unrecognizable to the newcomers as we would

My favourite part of the book is the beginning, which describes Christmas Eve and Christmas day in Templeton. The descriptions of the activities of the settlers gives us a good idea what life was like there. I liked the descriptions of the town and forest in winter as well.
On the negative side, the

This book was slow at first but then again most 18th/19th century fiction is slow at first. It was a trend for writers to give lengthy prose dedicated to descriptions of scenery. This would especially be the case if a writer's setting is the American Frontier.

A lot of people giving this book a low

Long old fashioned descriptions, but a good story. Characters based on real people, including the founder of Cooperstown NY, the author's father.

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