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The Spy

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  713 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
It was near the close of the year 1780 that a solitary traveller was seen pursuing his way through one of the numerous little valleys of Westchester. The county of Westchester, after the British had obtained possession of the island of New York, became common ground, in which both parties continued to act for the remainder of the War of the Revolution. A large portion of i ...more
Paperback, 404 pages
Published February 28th 2004 by (first published 1821)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,637)
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Henry Avila
Oct 02, 2014 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The neutral ground, Westchester County, just north of the British held New York City, time 1780, the American Revolution is in its 5th year, but the endless conflict continues, cavalry patrols by both sides keep the blood flowing, irregulars, the skinners for the U.S. and cow- boys, their opposite number, for England, do much burning, killing and looting, essentially common criminals, but with a pretense for the cause, doesn't matter which side. Harvey Birch, peddler, suspected spy for the King, ...more
Jan 10, 2016 Jubilee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I put off reading this book for a while because I knew it would be an important one, and I wanted to really read it. Well, I really read it, and it was fantastic! I feel kind of numb now that it's over. It was different than I had expected. I guess I thought it would be more complicated and extensive, but it was beautiful in it's simplicity. It was as if the American War for Independence was spread across Google Maps, and then you zoomed in, on just one little area, a house, or maybe a neighborh ...more
Oct 21, 2011 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who am I to review a book that was written 190 years ago? I really enjoyed the book. It’s full of action, adventure and colorful characters. The hero is a master of disguise. (Fortunately for him, people in the 18th Century were easily duped by donning women’s clothing and fashioning wigs out of sheep’s wool.) As in most of Cooper’s novels, there is an old widower who has two diametrically opposed daughters. There is also a conniving housekeeper, a happy-go-lucky slave and a circumlocutory surge ...more
Paul Parsons
Mar 13, 2015 Paul Parsons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written around 1820, this is one of James Fenimore Cooper's lesser known novels. Modern spy novels focus on the gadgets and cleverness of the spy trade. This one highlights the individual, and what it meant to be a spy in the Revolutionary War. Harvey Birch led a lonely and dangerous life, hunted by soldiers from both sides, as he worked more or less directly for George Washington. Anonymity was crucial and he ultimately refused pay, choosing to serve his country selflessly. Other humorous chara ...more
Donna Dozier
Sep 30, 2014 Donna Dozier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I laughed and cried. "The Spy" story is 193 years old! Even better is learning about the author. I am just getting started there are some 40 novels written by this author. Overall excellent story, good character development and "The Spy" was the author's second novel. James Fenimore Cooper is my American Jane Austen. If Jane had been a man she would have been James Fenimore Cooper. I am learning that the older books are way better then the authors of 2014. It is a pity when you think of the all ...more

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New York State, 1778. Henry Wharton, a young soldier for the British in the American War of Independence, creeps into no-man's land to spend an evening with his family. But the happy reunion is cut short when American troops surround the house. Can the mysterious pe
Mar 23, 2014 Alicea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's important to remember the time period that a book was written in when delving into a work of classical literature. For example, The Spy came out in 1821 when American novelists were still focused on telling stories about their brethren over the pond. It was quite revolutionary (pun sooo intended) to focus a story on American soil. The story is set during the American Revolution and opens at the end of 1780. Slavery clearly still practiced and attitudes about the slaves themselves were not a ...more
A book I read during the Jamestown 400 treasure hunt. It's fiction, of course, but Cooper paints a remarkable portrait of life in early America. Very interesting.
Apr 19, 2011 Sylvia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an awesome spy novel that addressed way more complex themes and motivations than I expected, and had some very compelling characters. Definitely not a story of the glamorous spy: this spy is more the precursor of "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold" or other such reviled, tortured, unhappy characters.

Some of the prose gets tiresome, some of the ideals are simplistic, some of the characterizations are flat stereotypes. But ultimately this is a lively little plot with sympathetic cha
Arlene Richards
I always wanted to read n American Classic from the time period of the American Revolution. I was quite surprised to read in the prelude that James Fenimore Cooper was not a particularly good writer. He did not write this book for public consumption but as a way of passing time productively. These comments proved to be true. I did find some of the military tactics quite unbelievable. People of wealth who declared neutrality were able the lavishly entertain both the Southern and Northern officers ...more
Oct 07, 2011 Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd really give it 3.5 stars as it was a great book. I like historical fiction and this was a painless way of learning some about the Revolutionary War. The language in it was a little hard to read and slowed me down a bit but that's probably because I like to read every word in a book. I can see why this is a classic and this is the type of book that if required to read in high school might make history more palatable. It's certainly not anymore fiction than history books are anyway.
Jan 03, 2015 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My absolute favorite JFC book, and one of my favorite books of all time.
Roman Kurys
Feb 11, 2016 Roman Kurys rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What am interesting read was The Spy! Since I read classics in the order in which they were published, I didn't expect what I got after "Precaution".

A pretty good tale of personal struggles during the time of America becoming independent from Britain. While I originally rated the book as a solid 3, I ended up with a 4 star rating simply because I have learned more about US history from reading this, then I have from going to school.

Admittedly, I never liked history as a subject, so partially i
Feb 02, 2016 Cindy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like historical fiction books, so I decided to read The Spy, plus I have never read anything by James Fenimore Cooper. I really struggled through the first three chapters. The writing style is dense, this is not a fast read. I have read some of Nathanial Hawthorn's short stories, so I knew to read this type of writing style slowly. The story was OK. This story takes place during the Revolutionary War. I did feel sorry for the characters, the Wharton family had to deal with the war on their fro ...more
Oct 21, 2015 Trounin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Сказать о «Шпионе» практически нечего. Купер ещё не может ладно построить повествование, зацикливаясь на одних и тех же моментах. Действующие лица могут от корки до корки мусолить тему ампутации ноги, размышляя об этом в различных плоскостях. И когда придёт пора ногу всё-таки ампутировать, как читатель выяснит, что этого не произойдёт. Может писатель шёл на это сознательно, не желая травмировать психику читателя столь варварским отношением к человеческой плоти. Всё у Купера идеализировано, высок ...more
May 04, 2008 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to the ( podcast. Great site for downloading books to listen to while walking the dog.

Enjoyed 'The Spy'. Great to read/listen about fictional historical events by an author who lived nearer the time period. Got a good feel for the language and customs of the period.
Jan 29, 2012 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4:
James Fenimore Cooper's tale of espionage and divided loyalties during the American War of Independence
Mar 27, 2014 Al rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the original American novel. Harvey Birch, a peddler by trade, leads a dangerous life as a suspected spy for the English during the American Revolution. Florid and overwritten, in the style of the times, but noteworthy not only for being the first of its kind, but for the fairness of its depiction of the conditions and conflicting loyalties existing in what is now Westchester County in New York during the Revolutionary War, and for the fidelity of some of the action scenes. A great peri ...more
Tome Addiction
It was a wonderful historically representative book of the Revolutionary War however, verbose, very detailed, and expressive. I found the pace of the book to be like waiting for a wave to appear and a brief ride of excitement while riding in, until I had to labor my paddle back out to catch another exciting section of the book. The pace was slow at times and the story appeared to be more of a random romp around the NY country side then a historical spy novel.

It kept me reading even though I got
Greg Nichols
Jan 21, 2015 Greg Nichols rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Even though written in the manner of the 18th century, this book is a grand slam. I came across it by complete accident, and the price was right: free. It is, quite obviously, a much lesser known Cooper work, why I cannot fathom. The story is gripping, and will hold interest, even though quite a lengthy tome. It provides a window into the greatest period in our history, told by an author in a position to know it intimately, by virtue of the age in which he lived. I could not more strongly
Aaron Cance
Making my first foray into James Fenimore Cooper's work outside of the Deerslayer cycle, and having no specialized knowledge of Cooper's other work, I wasn't sure what to expect from The Spy.

Overall an enjoyable read, I did find The Spy to be considerably more uneven than Cooper's popular Deerslayer novels. The narrative structure, although episodic like his other writing, seemed more arbitrary in its pacing, alternating between periods of breathtaking action, where I couldn't turn the pages fas
Evan Brandt
Jul 01, 2009 Evan Brandt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in early American history
Interesting most immediately to me, because it takes place in my old stomping grounds of the Hudson Valley. But as one of America's first novels, it has two particular values.
The first is it explores, somewhat heavy handidly, the idea of patriotism at all levels of society, not just in the upper crust as British literature had up until this point. And it is a particular form of selfless patriotism honored in other European nations at the timie of its publication which Cooper obviously wanted to
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bob Price
The title sort of gives it away, but James Fennimore Cooper's book is about...well...a spy.

Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution's little known 'Neutral Ground,' The Spy is filled with action packed adventure and somewhat lackluster romance. The main characters all have agnozing choices to make in a brief amount of time in order to survive the events recorded.

This book does provide critical insight into a significant event in American history. The Neutral Ground was an area whi
May 12, 2012 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Fenimore Cooper captured my imagination when I found a copy of his exciting (and occasionally violent) "Last of the Mohicans" while cleaning out the car. Years later I came across "The Spy: A Tale of the Neutral Ground" in a list of important books to read. This time the annotated copy was also helpful in introducing me to the author, who began writing almost as a lark, before becoming America"s first classic novelist.

It is fortunate that write he did, as his novels provide first hand ins
Patrick Sprunger
Mar 16, 2010 Patrick Sprunger rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: squares, nerds
Shelves: fiction
The Spy is reputedly based on a tale told to the author by either John Jay or Gouverneur Morris. Likely it is an amalgam or generic idea based partly in fact and partly in 19th century romance for the American Revolution.

The Spy is a typical early 19th century novel, complete with period theatricality and melodrama. There is actually very little spying until the last fifth of the book. However, that final fifth contains the swashbuckling, Mohicanesque action readers expect.

Readers interested i
Jan 31, 2016 Ronald rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this extremely hard to read, therefore hard to follow. I read a passage of Cooper's in a school textbook years ago that was a very readable excerpt from a Leatherstocking Tale, so I don't know what the problem was. I read this SOMETIME in 2009. The 2 stars was for this, not for the plot, which I was unsure of anyway. For this reason it probably should have been only 1 star.
Jul 02, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't read this since I was in high school. Even though this is a lesser known work by Cooper (author of the more famous "Last of the Mohicans"), I still think this is one of his better stories.

The Spy is almost 200 years old (originally published in 1821) and has strong historical ties to the American Revolution.
Sep 20, 2011 Stew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping for story that followed an interesting character, i.e. a spy, of the time that was based on a true story, but what I got was a narrative about a family. The tale was interesting; the family's loyalties were split and they had to house wounded officers for both sides at the same time at one point and it was a good illustration of the civilities and courtesies extended even to one's enemies during this time period. Howevere I found the title to be somewhat misleading as the spy himsel ...more
Michael Nowicki
Dec 06, 2015 Michael Nowicki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Well told story. Enjoyed reading my first book by James Fenimore Cooper. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
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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.

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

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