In this classic novel, James Fenimore Cooper portrays life in a new settlement on New York's Lake Otsego in the closing years of the eighteenth century. He describes the year's cycle: the turkey shoot at Christmas, the tapping of maple trees, fishing for bass in the evening, the marshalling of the militia. But Cooper is also concerned with exploring the development of the cultural and philosophical underpinnings of the American experience. He writes of the conflicts within the settlement itself, focusing primarily on the contrast between the natural codes of the hunter and woodsman Natty Bumppo and his Indian friend John Mohegan and the more rigid structure of law needed by a more complex society. Quite possibly America's first best-seller (more than three thousand copies were sold within hours of publication), The Pioneers today evokes a vibrant and authentic picture of the American pioneering experience.
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From its remarkable first scene--in which a gunshot finds an unintended target--to its fiery climax in the woods of New York State, The Pioneers is a rich chronicle of early frontier life filled with action, adventure, romance, and history. It is also the work that established James Fenimore Cooper as the first great American novelist. The first installment if what would later become the famous Leatherstocking Tales, The Pioneers introduces readers to the colorful and enduring character of frontiersman Natty Bumppo. Forced by a local landowner to obey new hunting laws, Natty Bumppo rebels and finds allies in the landowner's daughter and a mysterious young stranger. Against the backdrop of the changing seasons, a varied cast of unforgettable characters is caught up in a drama that illuminates the essence of the American character and the conflict between a restlessly expanding society and the unspoiled wilderness that was here before us all.
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