The Oak-openings: Or, The Bee-hunter [NOOK Book]

The Oak-openings: Or, The Bee-hunter

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NOOK Book (eBook - Digitized from 1869 volume)

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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940026876327
  • Publisher: Hurd and Houghton
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Digitized from 1869 volume
  • File size: 969 KB

Meet the Author

James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper is considered by many to be America's first great novelist. His most popular work, The Last of the Mohicans, has remained one of the most widely read novels throughout the world, greatly influencing the way many cultures have viewed both the American Indians and the frontier period of U.S. history.


James Cooper (he added the Fenimore when he was in his 30s) was born September 15, 1789, in Burlington, New Jersey, to William Cooper and Elizabeth Fenimore Cooper. In 1790 the family moved to the frontier country of upstate New York, where William established a village he called Cooperstown. Although cushioned by wealth and William's status as landlord and judge, the Coopers found pioneering to be rugged, and only 7 of the 13 Cooper children survived their early years. All the hardship notwithstanding, according to family reports, the young James loved the wilderness. Years later, he wrote The Pioneers (1823) about Cooperstown in the 1790s, but many of his other books draw deeply on his childhood experiences of the frontier as well.

Cooper was sent to Yale in 1801 but he was expelled in 1805 for setting off an explosion in another student's room. Afterward, as a midshipman in the fledgling U.S. Navy, he made Atlantic passages and served at an isolated post on Lake Ontario. Cooper resigned his commission in 1811 to marry Susan Augusta De Lancey, the daughter of a wealthy New York State family. During the next decade, however, a series of bad investments and legal entanglements reduced his inheritance to the verge of bankruptcy.

Cooper was already 30 years old when, on a dare from his wife, he became a writer. One evening he threw down, in disgust, a novel he was reading aloud to her, saying he could write a better book himself. Susan, who knew that he disliked writing even letters, expressed her doubts. To prove her wrong he wrote Precaution, which was published anonymously in 1820. Encouraged by favorable reviews, Cooper wrote other books in quick succession, and by the time The Last of the Mohicans, his sixth novel, was published in 1827, he was internationally famous as America's first professionally successful novelist. Eventually he published 32 novels, as well as travel books and histories. Cooper invented the genre of nautical fiction, and in the figure of Nathaniel or "Natty" Bumppo (Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans) -- the central character in the five Leatherstocking Tales Cooper published between 1823 and 1841 -- he gave American fiction its first great hero.

Shortly after publishing The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper moved his family to Europe, but in 1833 he returned to America, moving back into his father's restored Mansion House in Cooperstown. He died there on September 14, 1851.

Author biography courtesy of Barnes & Noble Books.

Good To Know

Cooper was expelled from Yale due to his passion for pranks, which included training a donkey to sit in a professor's chair and setting a fellow student's room on fire.

Between 1822 and 1826 Cooper lived in New York City, and was a major player on its intellectual scene. He founded the Bread and Cheese Club, which had many high-profile members, including notable painters of the Hudson River School and writers like William Cullen Bryant.

Read More Show Less
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 15, 1789
    2. Place of Birth:
      Burlington, New Jersey
    1. Date of Death:
      September 14, 1851
    2. Place of Death:
      Cooperstown, New York
    1. Education:
      Yale University (expelled in 1805)

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  • Posted April 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "The bees know me. ... I am their chief."

    James Fenimore Cooper wrote at least two novels whose young heroes are bee hunters: THE PRAIRIE and THE OAK OPENINGS. A bee hunter tracks wild honey bees to their nest, cuts down their tree, removes honey and sells in in St Louis or Detroit or wherever pioneers crave wild honey to get them through the winters.??The oak openings of Cooper's late novel happen to be in southwestern Michigan along the Kalamazoo river. Also known as oak savannas, they are still found in isolated areas of the central USA and cherished by preservationists. Oak savannas were formed in virgin forests by natural fires. Oak trees are resistant to fires and are stand in grassy meadow-like areas hundreds of acres large.??In the summer of 1812, young, unmarried bee hunter Ben Boden (in French le Bourdon or "the Drone") is happily gathering honey a few days paddling up the Kalamazoo river, inland from Lake Michigan. Unfortunately for him Onoah, a mighty 50 year old chieftain of no known tribe has convoked a meeting of many tribes in Prairie Round, near where Ben is gathering honey. Onoah, better known to white frontiersmen and soldiers as Scalping Peter, is working with Tecumseh and other chiefs to drive all white men, women and children out of the new world. He paddles into le Bourdon's life accompanied by Corporal Flint, an unsuspicious American soldier whose garrison was recently defeated by the British at Chicago, and Reverend Mr Amen, a polyglot Methodist missionary to the Indians.??Shortly before their arrival, Boden had met white Gersom Waring, an Irish alcoholic whose pretty sister and wife would soon join the story at river's mouth. For sister Margery, affectionately called Blossom, and the bee hunter, it was literally love at first sight.??The rest of this long, leisurely, but adventure-packed yarn is a tale of the wild American frontier, America's war of 1812 with Britain, captivity among and successful flight from Indians and much more. The several Indian tribes assembled at Prairie Round impressively debate future strategy: whether or not to "ethnically cleanse" North America of all whites, starting with the two white women and four white men camped nearby thinking Scalping Peter their friend.??Who owns America? Do whites have a better title than the redmen? Curiously one conclusion reached in THE OAK OPENINGS is that white title to Indian hunting grounds is merited by their bringing the gospel of the crucified Son of the Great Manitou to the Indians. Never mind that most whites are bad Christians. Their doctrine is pure, especially "Love thy enemies," preached right up to the moment of his tomahawking by Reverend Amen.??Le Bourdon, as he begins to realize the Indians are not his friends, convinces Indians that bees speak to him. "The bees know me. ... I am their chief." Addiction to alcohol plays a large role in Cooper's novel. In a comic scene the bee hunter acquires status of a mighty medicine man when he convinces a band of pro-British Pottawattamies that he controls a spring which overflows with whiskey. ??Religious readers will linger over the details of white-hating Scalping Peter's conversion to evangelical Christianity after witnessing the death by tomahawk of Reverend Amen. But first his heart had been softened by the many kindnesses of beautiful young Margery/Blossom. Once a Christian the mighty chief's heart grows weak. He accepts white rule. -OOO-

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