Review by Susan Miller

This is a fascinating look at America's first novelist. A man who brought us the western genre as well as the genre of sea sagas. He is probably best know for his series The Leatherstocking Tales which included some of his most famous works that have become enduring classics, The Pioneers, The Last of the Mohicans, The Prairie, The Pathfinders and The Deerslayer. Cooper was a prolific writer often drawing on the early years he spent in the vast frontier of what would become upstate New York during his childhood. His sea tales seem to draw on his times as a merchant sailor and during a stint in the U.S. Navy.While he had success with some of his works he was not always appreciated. He often courted controversy both at home and abroad, where his family spent seven years during the mid 1800's. Cooper appears to have been an extremely prickly man, if not with his family then certainly with his critics. In some ways he appears to have been his own worst enemy as he found it extremely hard to let bygones be bygones. He was nevertheless, an important American figure and this work is a thorough examination not only of his life but the history of the time and the role he played in it. The book is good at capturing the vast changes that occurred during his lifetime. Despite the changes around him he seemed continually drawn to an early America landscape, one where the frontier hadn't quite given way to civilization.


James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) was America’s first novelist, celebrated for his masterpiece, The Last of the Mohicans. Over a prolific career he created a national mythology that endures to this day. According to Daniel Webster, “We may read the nation’s history in his life.”

Yet Cooper was also a provocative figure, ultimately disillusioned with American democracy. He spent his boyhood in the wilds of the frontier, served as a merchant sailor and naval officer, traveled the courts of Europe in an age of upheaval and returned home to scandal and controversy. He conquered the literary world only to fall victim to his own fame. In the first popular biography of Cooper in a generation, historian Nick Louras brings the man and his age vividly to life.

Out now on 


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