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The Spy

James Fenimore Cooper

Book Overview: 

James Fenimore Cooper’s second novel, The Spy is based on Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly series, and tells an adventure tale about the American Revolution. The protagonist is Harvey Birch, a supposed loyalist who actually is a spy for George Washington, disguised as ‘Mr Harper.’ The book brought Cooper fame and wealth, and is regarded as the first great success in American fiction.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .or some time in silence, during which the soldier gradually prevailed over the man; then he turned to the prisoner with a searching look, as he asked:

“Captain Wharton, whence did you procure this paper?”

“This is a question, I conceive, Major Dunwoodie has no right to ask.”

“Your pardon, sir; my feelings may have led me into an impropriety. This name is no counterfeit. Captain Wharton, my duty will not suffer me to grant you a parole; you must accompany me to the Highlands.”

“I did not expect otherwise, Major Dunwoodie.”

“Major Dunwoodie,” said Frances, “I have already acknowledged to you my esteem; I have promised, Dunwoodie, when peace shall be restored to our country, to become your wife; give my brother his liberty on parole, and I will this day go with you to the altar, follow you to the camp, and, in becoming a soldier’s bride, learn to endure a sold. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has surprised me more. I don’t know how many times I thought I had it figured out and he would spring some completely unique twist on me. Cooper has a wonderful way of setting up stock situations and shocking you with energetic solutions.
Then the characters

What an amazing story. A beautiful testament to the life of the man who was Harvey Birch. (RTC, maybe.)

My current reading of The Deerslayer has turned my attention to works by Cooper that I've read already, a couple of which I haven't reviewed here before now. Published in 1821, The Spy was only Cooper's second novel, and the first to be much a literary success; set mainly during the Revolutionary Wa

The neutral ground Westchester County, just north of the British held New York City, time 1780 the American Revolution is in its 5th year, but the endless conflict continues, cavalry patrols by both sides keep the blood flowing, irregulars the skinners for the U.S. and cow- boys their opposite numbe

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