Item description for The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper...
Overview Hawkeye, a scout, leads a small band of Americans fleeing from the British and their Indian allies in the French and Indian War
Publishers Description The wild rush of action in this classic frontier adventure story has made The Last of the Mohicans the most popular of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales. Deep in the forests of upper New York State, the brave woodsman Hawkeye (Natty Bumppo) and his loyal Mohican friends Chingachgook and Uncas become embroiled in the bloody battles of the French and Indian War. The abduction of the beautiful Munro sisters by hostile savages, the treachery of the renegade brave Magua, the ambush of innocent settlers, and the thrilling events that lead to the final tragic confrontation between rival war parties create an unforgettable, spine-tingling picture of life on the frontier. And as the idyllic wilderness gives way to the forces of civilization, the novel presents a moving portrayal of a vanishing race and the end of its way of life in the great American forests.
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More About James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) grew up at Otsego Hall, his father's manorial estate near Lake Otsego in upstate New York. Educated at Yale, he spent five years at sea, as a foremast hand and then as a midshipman in the navy. At thirty he was suddenly plunged into a literary career when his wife challenged his claim that he could write a better book that the English novel he was reading to her. The result was Precaution (1820), a novel of manners. His second book, The Spy (1821), was an immediate success, and with The Pioneers (1823) he began his series of Leatherstocking Tales. By 1826 when The Last of the Mohicans appeared, his standing as a major novelist was clearly established. From 1826 to 1833 Cooper and his family lived and traveled in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. Two of his most successful works, The Prairie and The Red Rover, were published in 1827. He returned to Otsego Hall in 1834, and after a series of relatively unsuccessful books of essays, travel sketches, and history, he returned to fiction - and to Leatherstocking - with The Pathfinder (1840) and The Deerslayer (1841). In his last decade he faced declining popularity brought on in part by his waspish attacks on critics and political opponents. Just before his death in 1851 an edition of his works led to a reappraisal of his fiction and somewhat restored his reputation as the first of American writers.
James Fenimore Cooper lived in Burlington Burlington Burlin. James Fenimore Cooper was born in 1789 and died in 1851.
James Fenimore Cooper has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Last of the Mohicans?
"We Were Here" Jul 19, 2007
Since there are already over 100 reviews of this book and probably thousands have been written over the years, I'll do this one without benefit of book in hand, from memory and without a lot of details. It took me many years to get over the antiquated language barrier and to finally read the book. The classics are always harder to read than contemporary fiction, but sometimes it's worth the effort.
What tipped the scales for me and piqued my curiosity was watching the recent movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, and Eric Schweig, and realizing that this was a good story. Also, I'm very familiar with the setting in upstate NY: Lake George, Balston Spa, Glenns Falls, Scroon Lake, and surrounding area--at least as it is now, and it was fun imagining what it would have been like in those days, when the land was virgin, settlers could lose their scalps if they weren't careful, and the France contested with Britain for supremacy of the land.
The book wasn't a romance--at least not in the modern sense of the word--with love scenes and the like. But it was a romance in the old sense in that the three main characters; Hawk-eye, and the two Mohicans, were larger than life heroes; in the moral, physical, and spiritual meanings of the term. The elder sister Cora was also a well developed, strong willed and heroic character, which surprised me a little considering the age in which the book was written.
For me the most interesting character of the novel was Chingachgook's son, Uncas, who was the "last of the Mohicans," a noble race of American Indians, which formerly occupied the lands by the "salt lake," (i.e., the Atlantic Ocean), and were dispossessed and robbed of their lands and heritage by the original Dutch settlers and others. Uncas was a tracker extraordinaire, even better than the indomitable Hawk-eye in this respect. But he was young, inexperienced, and impetuous, which was eventually his undoing when he came up against the evil, and formidable Magua. But before he died, he was recognized as a king or great chief of his people, an heir apparent. So decreed the venerable Tamenund, a 100 year old patriarch and judge of the Delaware peoples, a related tribe to the Mohicans. This episode would have been difficult to write into an action movie, but it would have been great if it had been.
Another interesting character completely eliminated from both the 1934 and 1992 movies was David Gamut, a preacher psalmist, whose moral presence and as a comic relief, was an integral part of the novel.
All in all, this is still a book worth reading, if only to get a glimse of the way things were then and might be again.
the last of the mohicans Jul 12, 2007
it is a very good book but the english that it is written in is different from the way we speak today. I enjoy the book and will recommend it to everyone looking for something that is good to read and to all children for their classes that require reading books.
Natty Bumppo: The American Tarzan Jun 11, 2007
Nathanial Bumppo, otherwise known as Leatherstocking, Deerslayer, and Long Rifle, is without a doubt the quintessential American version of Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan. To be sure, Cooper's frontier character saw print long before Burrough's creation did in 1912. This in no way invalidates the creation of ERB, but it does give more literary impact to a wholly American character who appears in what can only be defined, if one is truthful, as wholly flawed novels.
The five novels which feature Bumppo were written by Cooper out of sequence. This doesn't necessarily impair the fictive underpinnings of the stories themselves, but it does give rise to certain elements which writhe like a murky thread throughout the main arc.
We will, as expected, consider the best known, at least as far as the general public goes, work of Cooper, that being "The Last of the Mohicans" and examine just what makes this novel tick, and why you should read it.
Cooper believed that Indian culture must needs be crushed by the Anglo Saxon wheels of religion and technology. He saw no other way around this inevitability. Though he wasn't himself racist by the definitions which we adhere to today, he did have certain beliefs of superiority of his own culture which "dark-skinned" individuals had to bow down to. "Mohicans", with its poignant idea that there will come a time the "last" of this noble race will pass from the ken of men (that is to say the ken of White Men), has through this very self-same literary device carved for itself a spot of prominence withing American literature.
Not everyone liked Cooper's work. He was always viewed much more favorably in Europe than by home-grown American authors. Mark Twain famously savaged Cooper's work and the savagery resonates even to this day. Yet, something about the novels, especially "Mohicans" endures. Perhaps it is the idea of a race of men passing, the thread of virgin forests and pure lakes, the savagery of life on the frontier, the fog of war, the blood-curdling violence. Whatever the reason for its longevity, and Twain notwithstanding, this book endures. Thank God.
As one might expect there is very little of this book that is recognizable in the 1992 film remake of the same name. In fact, the film stole much of the story line which was rewritten in the 1920 silent film. In the modern film Hawk-eye, at the height of his powers, is taciturn to a fault but still capable of a normal sexual relationship. In the novel Natty Bumppo is not only naive sexually, he won't shut up, period. He discourses on everything, even to the halt of the action being described around him. Leaning on his rifle he has no problem detailing, to exhaustion, his opinion on events around him.
Another big difference, aside from the often awkward descriptions, stereotypes of women and just plain ignorance of Native American ethnicities, is the fact a major character dies in the novel yet is allowed to survive in film. I suppose this would come as a shock to someone who saw the movie first, but there it is. Cooper has no problem dispatching that which, if allowed to live, would intercede in the future life of Hawk-eye. Natty Bumppo must remain pure. He must be allowed to view and accept nature as a powerful motivation than the love of another human being. It is his past, it is his destiny. He is akin to the figure of Greek tragedy in this way. He has a duty to perform and he will accomplish it, but he himself cannot lose the connection he has to the pristine land he loves and calls home.
I highly recommend this book, though the new reader must approach it with a few caveats and not a little caution. Cooper is simply not that great a writer. I am not the first to say that nor will I be the last. Many of the passages go on far too long and the long-winded philosophies of Bumppo grate. Nevertheless, there is power here, along with pathos, grandeur, and yes, love -- though it's love on Bumppo's, and Cooper's, own terms.
Despite its many flaws this is a major American novel by any definition. If you like adventure, and don't mind a little (okay, a lot) lagging, I think you will enjoy reading "The Last of the Mohicans."
Last of Mohicans Mar 15, 2007
Very different from the movies, but very good in its own right
Lighten up Sam! Jan 31, 2007
Mark Twain took great pleasure in ridiculing Cooper's novel, gleefully pointing out plot inconsistencies, unbelievable events that led often to harder to believe conclusions, and the wooden dialog and petty philosophizing of the novel's principle character - all in an effort to prove that any way you might look at it, Copper could not, for his life, tell a tale. I think that Twain might be guilty of a bit of jealousy. Many of the faults that Twain found with Cooper can be found in his own writings, from Tom Sawyer to Huckleberry Finn; moreover, in none of Twain's work can you find the dramatic action that Cooper was able to create. Also, Twain was looking backward some fifty years and American English had undergone some major transformations, becoming less structured thus making earlier American literature, by contrast, seem formal, wordy and, to some, unreadable.
Cooper's work must be evaluated from within its own time frame to prove just how revolutionary his writings were. Shaped by the traditions of the eighteenth century English novel and influenced by his contemporary, Sir Walter Scott, Cooper continued this tradition of the romance novel - with a peculiarly unique American twist: three of the major characters of this novel were not European whites (the almost universal character model of the literature with which Cooper was acquainted), but American Indians. Althought this was quite unique, Cooper was not free from the prejudices that was prevalent at the time of the novel's writing, and despite being associated with the idea of the "noble savage", created many more ignoble Indians than he did noble ones.
The strengths of the novel are the descriptive prose that Cooper employs to paint his picture of frontier America - descriptions which, in fact, compare with some of the best nature descriptions in American literature - and the fine character development of two of his supporting characters, Magua and Cora. Twain was correct about Cooper's hero, Hawkeye - he is wooden, ignorant, and despite his close association with his two Mohican buddies, Chingachgook and Uncas, is openly santimonious about his pure "un-crossed" white blood and rails at anything that smacks of learnedness. Magua and Cora are much more complex characters.
Magua is one of the best crafted characters in early American literature. He is not the stoical Indian character type represented by Chingachgook and Uncas, but combines the bravery of the Huron warrior witht the worse habits of the white man; he is ravaged by rage and hatred, having been cast out by his own tribe and used by both the French and English for their own colonial pursuits. He comes across as a sort of native American Ahab and is not without his sympathetic side. Cora is the antithesis of her fainthearted sister, the blond Alice. She is brave, resourceful and feminine; yet never could be considered (although Hawkeye does) a member of the "gentle sex". That there is a hidden aspect to her character, that her "charged color" hints at some dark mystery only makes her more appealing as a character.
In short, Cooper did know how to tell a story, and if the contemporary reader will abate some of his biases and give the novel a chance, that reader will be not only captured by the action of the book but will realize that Cooper deserves his place as America's first novelist. Do not confuse the recent movie of the novel, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, as an honest portrayal. The screenplay, when compared to Cooper's text, seems to have been based on an entirely different novel.