Set during the French and Indian War, The Last of the Mohicans is the second installment in James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales and one of the greatest action stories ever told.
When the Munro sisters and their traveling party are betrayed by Magua, a Huron guide, the skilled and courageous woodsman Natty Bumppo—better known as Hawkeye—and his Mohican comrades Chingachgook and Uncas come to their rescue. The thrilling adventures that ensue, from the siege of a British fort by French forces to the clever infiltration of a native village to the dramatic final showdown atop a rocky cliff, are an entertaining and sincere tribute to a way of life that was already vanishing from the American wilderness.
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James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans remains a highly regarded historical account of colonization in the Americas and the effects of European migration on the indigenous population. While commonly studied in the classroom, Cooper’s work has also been adapted for the stage, opera, and film, most famously in the 1992 film starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
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Must be read by the youth, housewives, student and executives.
‘Death and honour are thought to be the same, but today I have learned that sometimes they are not.’
Set in frontier America in the midst of the French-Indian war, as the French are attempting to overthrow an English fort, Cooper’s story follows Alice and Cora Munro, pioneer sisters who are trying to find their way back to their father, an English commander. Guided by an army major and Magua, an Indian from the Huron tribe, they soon meet Hawk-eye, a frontier scout and his Mohican Indian companions Chingachgook and Uncas.
Magua is not all that he seems and the sisters are kidnapped. In The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper sets Indian tribe against Indian tribe and lays bare the brutality of the white man against the Mohicans.
Natty Bumppo—who had appeared as Leatherstocking in The Pioneers, as Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans, and who had died as the Trapper in The Prairie—appears again as the hero of The Pathfinder. Encouraged by his British publisher to write another tale of the American frontier, Cooper revived his character to take him to the shores of Lake Ontario, the Inland Sea, for an adventurous story of sailors, Indians, and hunters. Inspired by his own experiences as a mid-shipman on Lake Ontario in 1808-09, Cooper writes in his most picturesque fashion of the wilderness of the Great Lakes, the Thousand Islands, and Niagara.
“Never did the art of writing tread more closely upon the art of the painter,” wrote Honoré de Balzac in his review of The Pathfinder. Cooper writes of places that were wilderness in his youth and that changed rapidly in his own lifetime as cities and commerce developed around the Great Lakes. Cooper’s attitude toward this development was ambivalent, as he indicated in his Preface: “That great results are intended to be produced by means of these wonderful changes, we firmly believe...but that they will prove to be of the precise results now so generally anticipated, in consulting the experience of the past, and taking the nature of man into account, the reflecting and intelligent may be permitted to doubt.”
The Pathfinder remains a classic and entertaining account of the American wilderness and of aspects of human experience in the New World.