The Pioneers: or, The Sources of the Susquehanna

The Pioneers: or, The Sources of the Susquehanna

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by James Fenimore Cooper

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The Pioneers: The Sources of the Susquehanna; a Descriptive Tale is a historical novel, one of the Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper. The Pioneers was first of these books to be published (1823), but the period of time covered by the book (principally 1793) makes it the fourth


The Pioneers: The Sources of the Susquehanna; a Descriptive Tale is a historical novel, one of the Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper. The Pioneers was first of these books to be published (1823), but the period of time covered by the book (principally 1793) makes it the fourth chronologically.

The story takes place on the rapidly advancing frontier of New York State and features a middle-aged Leatherstocking (Natty Bumppo), Judge Marmaduke Temple of Templeton, whose life parallels that of the author's father Judge William Cooper, and Elizabeth Temple (the author's sister Susan Cooper), of Cooperstown. The story begins with an argument between the Judge and the Leatherstocking over who killed a buck, and as Cooper reviews many of the changes to his fictional Lake Otsego, questions of environmental stewardship, conservation, and use prevail. The plot develops as the Leatherstocking and Chingachgook begin to compete with the Temples for the loyalties of a mysterious young visitor, "Oliver Edwards," the "young hunter," who eventually marries Elizabeth. Chingachgook dies, exemplifying the vexed figure of the "dying Indian," and Natty vanishes into the sunset. For all its strange twists and turns, 'The Pioneers' may be considered one of the first ecological novels in the United States.

— Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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"Another fine book in this excellent series. These books are attractive, durable, reasonably priced, and impeccably edited."—Richard A. Hook, Denison University

"A well-produced edition."—Jeff Cupp, Troy State University

"A very handsome edition."—E. N. Feltskog, University of Wisconsin

"It's great to have available these well-designed and edited editions of past literature in a comparatively inexpensive paperback."—Arlie E. Herron, University of Tenn.-Chattanooga

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Mobi Classics
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Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 15, 1789
Date of Death:
September 14, 1851
Place of Birth:
Burlington, New Jersey
Place of Death:
Cooperstown, New York
Yale University (expelled in 1805)

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The Pioneers: or, The Sources of the Susquehanna 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading the Leather Stocking tales in chronological order of the title character (Natty Bummpo) would require this book to be read after Deerslayer, Last of the Mohicans and Pathfinder. This is very unfortunate. I found the first 3 in the series to be enthralling in the scope of action and scene. This was not the case with The Pioneers. In his forward, Cooper states that this book was the most enjoyable of the tales to write. In my opinion, it is the most difficult to read. The action sequences are far between and seperated by dozens of pages of minute detail having very little to do with the plot. I found it almost impossible to focus without falling asleep.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you haven't already opened a book by James Fenimore Cooper '1789 - 1851', is his second novel THE PIONEERS '1823' a good place to begin? I think it is. *** The leisurely yarn is about a very precise frontier area of New York State from December 1793 to October 1794. The dominant whites who people the region of the eleven Finger Lakes are thinking of themselves as Americans, or at least North Americans, and no longer as transplanted Europeans. The 50 buildings of the 7-year old village of Templeton self-consciously and with total consciousness of righteousness transplant features of British life hundreds of years old: reformed Christianity, lawyers, a court, a rich landed squire, a preacher, a shopkeeper, a woodcutter, an estate manager and on and on. When such towns are created, they strike a blow at the libertarian, almost anarchic natural philosophy of 67 year old, six foot tall Nathaniel 'Natty' Bumppo, a backwoodsman hanging on as long as he can stand encroaching 'civilization' of Templeton just across Lake Otsego. *** The lone remaining representative of the tribal Delawares/Mohicans who had sold this land to the King of England is Indian John aka Chingachgook aka the Big Serpent. It is no surprise that the whites drive out the Redskins. But why do they so repel a Moravian educated but illiterate white Christian such as Natty Bumppo? Civilized daughters cause many an independent hunter and trapper ultimately to settle down in towns. Why and how does Natty, the Leatherstocking, resist their charm? *** Other tales are told of Templeton and its wealthy landowner/developer Judge Marmaduke Temple. He was raised Quaker and seems an honest, loyal man. But did he acquire his vast holdings only by cheating his school chum and monetary backer, the Tory Colonel Edward Effingham, to do so? If so, then he faces the vengeance of the Colonel's recently appeared son -- veiled by the pseudonym Oliver Edwards. This angry young Achilles has moved in with Natty and Indian John, followers of his grandfather, the old Major, in the French and Indian War. Young Edwards/Effingham saves the Judge and his beautiful teenage daughter from a potentially deadly sleighing accident on Christmas eve 1793 and is taken into the Temple household as the Judge's secretary. *** A series of American eccentrics move in and out of the main plot, most well intentioned, but a couple having more than a little scoundrel about them. All are credible and worth our getting to know. *** The white settlers of Templeton destroy the abundant Glimmerglass timberlands with barely a thought. The judge renders 'impartial' but stupid justice to the Leatherstocking over a deer taking incident. Judge Temple spares Natty the lash because of his advanced age but humiliates him by time in the stocks and in jail. Natty burns down his decades old cabin rather than let officers of the law enter it against his will. At story's end, the judge has acquired a hotheaded son-in-law. The old injustices of land claims are resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Indian John has died as a pagan, not a Christian, and Natty Bumppo has had it with civilization. He will die in his late 80s fighting Sioux 500 miles west of the Mississippi in the novel THE PRAIRIE. *** Over and over in the five Leatherstocking tales, Nathaniel Bumppo is presented as a new purely American kind of professional: a danger manager. Whenever perils of the wilderness or Indians threaten his civilized neighbors, Natty's pre-eminence is readily conceded, even by experienced British and American military officers. *** Read THE PIONEERS and get a sense of the often mysterious cultural and historical currents which have made Americans Americans. -OOO-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago