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The Pioneers (The Leatherstocking Tales #4)

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  1,762 ratings  ·  64 reviews
The Pioneers: The Sources of the Susquehanna; a Descriptive Tale is a historical novel, the first published of the Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper. While The Pioneers was published in 1823, before any of the other Leatherstocking Tales, the period of time it covers makes it the fourth chronologically.
The story takes
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Published by Feedbooks (first published 1823)
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Neil
The best books by James Fenimore Cooper to read are old ones. Naturally, there will never be any new Cooper books so I mean the best editions to read are those from your local public library: specifically the ones no one has touched in 30 years. According to the circulation card in the back of the copy which I read, it was last due February 28, 1980.

The world has changed radically since then, as evidenced by the bar code sticker on the inside back cover of the 1958 Dodd, Mead & Company Grea
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Carolyn
I actually liked this! While reading the reviews that others had written, I was a bit concerned that perhaps I would not, but I think, since I read it out of order (this one first), I did not expect the great adventures the others seem to have. I enjoyed being able to see our country's youth through the author's eyes and I was thoroughly wrapped up in the struggle between the various characters.
I admit it did bog down in a few places, and I don't think you can consider it a fun or light book,
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Nancy Oakes
the long version is here; otherwise, read on.

I'm of two minds about this novel and my ambiguity has to do with Cooper's writing style. First, let me say that I'm no stranger to older works with long, drawn-out phrasing or archaic writing styles -- I figure it's a given that these are books from the past and they certainly weren't designed with our more modern, streamlined reading styles in mind. That's not the issue here. Instead, it's more like the main threads of the narratives in this book
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Jason Reeser
Lately, I've been seeing much honor being given to a recently deceased author whose famous "10 Rules of Writing" stress the importance of fast, non-descriptive, skip-the-boring parts narrative. It warms me to know this late author would have hated James Fenimore Cooper's "The Pioneers", as would his adherents. I realize there are fewer and fewer readers out there who have the capacity or desire to appreciate this type of slow, highly descriptive, thoughtful work of fiction. Even Mark Twain raile ...more
Mark Oppenlander
This was the first of the Leatherstocking Tales to be published, but chronologically it is fourth out of five. I have been reading them in order of their internal logic, so it is the fourth of the series I have read.

This book is quite a bit different than the other three I've read in the series. There is less action, there are more characters and there is less focus on Natty Bumppo himself, the famed Leatherstocking from which the series derives its name. In fact, this story of the clash between
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Ross
Having read "The Last of the Mohicans" and "The Deerslayer" long ago in my youth and recently learning that there are more books in the series called "The Leather Stocking Tales", I ventured upon this work.
You see the one star rating, but I have to emphasize that this is too generous, This is an excruciatingly boring story with no redeeming features. I recall that the quality of prose in the two works cited above was not good, but the story lines were interesting making the books worth reading.
H
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Shari
Having read Cooper long ago and not finding it to my taste then, I let him languish on my shelves. This time around I was mesmerized. I was most impressed with the picture he gives us of the wastefulness of the early pioneers who thought this a land of plenty to be exploited beyond good sense and without care. He portrays the destruction of the natural culture of the Indian when the whites moved in with their belief in their civilization and religious culture as the answer to everything with a d ...more
Steven
Thus begins my slog through Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales. Having read The Deerslayer, I would never embark on another Cooper novel, much less a series, if it weren't necessary for my dissertation. ANYWAY. In my opinion, Cooper's writing lacks the qualities most good literature retains: intrigue, crisis, poetry, strangeness. No mystery, question, or need really drives The Pioneers forward. Cooper simply describes early American character types--namely, the noble frontiersman (Natty Bumppo) and ...more
Lisa
I didn't know quite what to expect with this book, but was pleasantly surprised. It was a lot less moralistic and a whole lot more environmentally concerned than I expected. There's the usual concern with Christianity that one would expect to find in a book from this time frame, but it is certainly less than the later Victorian writers who felt the need to inject everything they wrote with morality. The minister's failure to get a deathbed confession of piety from John Mohegan is something the V ...more
Sarah C
Really beginning to understand the concept of the writer, through the character of Bummpo, about the "invasion" of the virgin forests of the new world. Found the first part of this book a bit boring but persevered (jumped pages at times as was full of unnecessary dialogue). I needed to know what had become of our hero Natty. Fenimore has been able to keep me curious enough about the character to make me want to continue the series. I find it difficult to believe his age at times and his intellec ...more
Stefanie
The first 200 pages of this book were just awful--the first day literally ends on the 200th page, so you can imagine how overwrought with detail the prose is--but the story got pretty good after that.

I probably wouldn't recommend going out of your way to read The Pioneers, but if you've started struggling through it already, you should soldier on to the end.
Joe
Pioneers creates in beautiful detail the countryside and the proud people who came to this continent. Most of all I love Coopers descriptions of the harshness and emenseness yet overwhelming beauty of this wilderness. Rarely today can one feel nature so purely, simply and overwhelmingly and each of us still very much still ought to. A wonder of a book.
Martha
I could not get into this book. The style of writing was difficult for me. I often could not see who what speaking or thinking, so I spent time going back and rereading sections. I finally gave up on it. but the reviews and synopsis made it sound like I would like it so I may try again later.
Mike
My first Cooper, and, as I found out midway through, probably not the best one to start with. It's the first tale featuring Leatherstocking, but he's actually a relatively minor character in the book, which is set in 1793. The opening scenes, in which the Templetons, representing civilization, encounter Leatherstocking and Chingachgook, both in their 70s, are fantastic. Unfortunately, whenever these two characters are absent, the book screeches to a halt. Lots of description and unfunny comic bu ...more
Maciek
Sorry James, but this sucks !
Sosen
The way I progressed through James Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers was unique. It took a lot of effort and various strategies for me to get this book finished, but I did finish it. Long ago, I stole the entire Leatherstocking Tales (five paperback copies by varying publishers) from my parents' attic. I originally tried reading The Pioneers about two years ago. After 200 pages, I flat-out gave up. A full year and a half later, I felt bad about quitting it because I wanted to at least get through o ...more
Amanda May
I've heard say of a certain book, a great American classic that captures the paradoxes and attitudes of the American frontier, and after explorin' this here text from the east end of the front cover across its wide open plains, mountains, rivers, valleys, woods, wolves, and the seventh circle of hell, to the western boundaries of the back cover's oceanic shores, glimmering with the hope and wonder of completion, I find myself still more partial to the British texts than before embarking on this ...more
Kristin Boluch
Primary interest concerns Chingachook's status in this story; especially in the chapter concerning drinking at the local tavern. Romance and alcohol play out with an allegory regarding moonlight/moonshine and how John's memory of his past exploits emerge with his drunkenness, contrasted to his "civilized," Christianized sober present.
Jonathan
Not great, but ok. I'm not even sure what to say about it! It is set in a small New York state town in the early 1800s or so, and revolves around conflicts between some of the townspeople and Natty Bumppo, a hunter and woodsman, and his friend Indian John. The reason I read it is that it was mentioned in a book, 'Queer Cowboys' I read last year, which talks about their relationship as an early M/M romance of a kind. This is of course only a minor implied part of the novel, but was vaguely intere ...more
Tahca
Sorry for a spoiler but to me the only moving yet tragic part in this entire book was Chingachgook's death. In fact that's basically the only part I bothered to read. I was upset that unlike the other books in the Leatherstocking Tales this one has virtually no action.
Vaughn W
This was the fourth book of the series in my reading. I found it to be the second best after The Last of the Mohecans. The author's discussion of the need for conservation was prophetic. It is a good read, especially for those of us who enjoy the language of the nineteenth century.
Mike
I read the book solely to discover the answer to a mystery. At the conclusion of The Prairie, Natty bequeaths his most prized possession, Killdeer, his rifle, to an unnamed man living in the Otsego. Was Cooper savvy enough to omit Oliver Edwards' name and back-story in order to sell more copies of The Pioneer? Perhaps so.

Though not woven as richly as The Prairie or The Deerslayer, The Pioneers is well-worth the read.

(More to follow.)

Cait
Cooper's perspective on the colonization of the Western world is much like the perceptive of Ralph Emerson's on the Natural world. Although not attempting to explore transcendentalism as a Romantic, Cooper's relations with the Natural world of early North America relate back to Romantic ideals. He has a great insight into his exploration and geographical changes compared to Europe and has a instantaneous appreciation of the land. Although naive at times, Cooper offers a look into the white-male ...more
Aaron Cance
If one can read books promiscuously, as I was reassured in graduate school that one could, I read all five of the books in this series like a complete whore, giving myself entirely over to the story - loved all five. A word of caution, however: They were written in a different order than the chronology of the narrative. Imagine my disappointment at the Deerslayer's death at the end of the third book out of five.

The order that the author produced them:

The Pioneers
Last of the Mohicans
The Prairie
T
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Colette
I'd give the first 300 pages of this book 2 stars (or maybe even 1.5), but then it was like Cooper suddenly realized he may want to actually sell some copies so he put in a plot line and some action. After that point I would give it 3.5 stars. By the end I really wanted to go on to read the next book just to find out the backstory on the characters.

This novel is not for the faint of heart. I can't tell you how many times I almost gave up. The pacing is VERY leisurely, and there are a lot of tang
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J. Alfred
So imagine Dickens but American (and proud of it), with less humor and more hero worship. Okay, got it? Well, you've got Fenimore Cooper! Anyway, if you get into it, this is a good, solid read, as well as being historically interesting (in that Cooper and Melville are two of the writers who make a big deal about being American but whose literature is more or less a continuation of Brit Lit part colonies). This book is an early entreaty against American prodigality in matters of natural resources ...more
Rob Taylor
The first of the series, and it is quite interesting. A thought provoking look into the early American mindset concerning the blooming American melting pot.
Tom
Holy crap, Cooper, write something that isn't awful! Can't? You're dead, you say? Too bad. Hopefully, Last of the Mohicans redeems him as a novelist. That being said, despite its TEDIOUS style, this novel does describe the ambiguity of the early American in terms of self-definition. Disparity between the city folk and the naturalist Indian-raised Natty Bumppo is clear. Are Americans European like their ancestors or something entirely different? I'm not sure Cooper really answers the questions he ...more
Ange
1st one of the Leatherstocking tales. Good tale. Also covers Christianity....
Terence
Found it referenced in the World's Away catalogue and thought it might be worth a read. I had read Cooper back in middle school and found the Leatherstocking Tales a bit tedious but interesting, overall it never caught on for me. This book was no different, but perhaps was the most interesting I picked up. These characters in the midst of massive expansion and flux are interesting it just isn't where I needed it to be.
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James Fenimore Cooper was a popular and prolific American writer. He is best known for his historical novel The Last of the Mohicans, one of the Leatherstocking Tales stories, and he also wrote political fiction, maritime fiction, travelogues, and essays on the American politics of the time. His daughter Susan Fenimore Cooper was also a writer.

Series:
* The Leatherstocking Tales
* The Littlepage Man
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More about James Fenimore Cooper...

Other Books in the Series

The Leatherstocking Tales (5 books)
  • The Deerslayer (The Leatherstocking Tales, #1)
  • The Last of the Mohicans (The Leatherstocking Tales #2)
  • The Pathfinder (Leatherstocking Tales, #3)
  • The Prairie
The Last of the Mohicans (The Leatherstocking Tales #2) The Deerslayer (The Leatherstocking Tales, #1) The Pathfinder (Leatherstocking Tales, #3) The Prairie The Spy

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