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The Pioneers (Leatherstocking Tales, #4)
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The Pioneers (The Leatherstocking Tales #4)

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,138 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
The first of the five Leatherstocking Tales, The Pioneers is perhaps the most realistic and beautiful of the series. Drawing on his own experiences, Cooper brilliantly describes Frontier life, providing a fascinating backdrop to the real heart of the novel--the competing claims to land ownership of Native Americans and settlers. This edition follows the publication of The ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published February 24th 2000 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1823)
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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
Dec 07, 2013 Neil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 07, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it
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,
Jason Reeser
Aug 24, 2013 Jason Reeser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Atika  Patel
Aug 15, 2016 Atika Patel rated it really liked it
This book was slow at first but then again most 18th/19th century fiction is slow at first. It was a trend for writers to give lengthy prose dedicated to descriptions of scenery. This would especially be the case if a writer's setting is the American Frontier.

A lot of people giving this book a low rating are probably people who wanted to read a nice little adventure story that doesn't require much thinking. After all the movie with Daniel Day Lewis was pretty good. However, you are very much mi
Sep 27, 2015 Ce rated it really liked it
Long old fashioned descriptions, but a good story. Characters based on real people, including the founder of Cooperstown NY, the author's father.
Apr 04, 2010 Maciek rated it did not like it
Sorry James, but this sucks !
Feb 15, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 31, 2014 Steven rated it it was ok
Shelves: home-inventory
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
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
Sarah C
Apr 29, 2014 Sarah C rated it really liked it
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
Jun 28, 2010 Ross rated it did not like it
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.
Jan 16, 2016 Colleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Impatient modern readers will find Cooper's writing style slow-going because he takes the time to delve into landscape and character with a casual pace that we are not used to, and the omniscient point of view keeps us from inhabiting the mindset of any one character. But taken in context as a piece of its era, The Pioneers is a beautiful, leisurely (at first) tour through the frontier of Early America. There, you will discover how the wilderness of late 1700s New York State would have appeared ...more
Mar 13, 2015 Shari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Aug 05, 2013 Joe rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 18, 2015 Lukerik rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This must surely be one of the worst novels ever written. Check this out from the beginning of chapter 29:

“When Marmaduke Temple and his cousin rode through the gate of the former, the heart of the father had been too recently touched with the best feeling of our nature, to leave inclination for immediate discourse.”

Now that doesn't happen by accident, does it? He's written that on purpose and published it because he thinks it's good. Frightening. I read it to my mum and she got really angry on
Jun 05, 2010 Martha rated it did not like it
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.
Sep 22, 2014 Mike rated it liked it
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
Emily Schlepp
Sep 04, 2015 Emily Schlepp rated it really liked it
In the introduction, Cooper confesses that he knows that he took more enjoyment in writing than anyone will ever take in reading it. That simple humble statement made me love him. I absolutely ADORED this book. Although some parts were tedious to read with Cooper's particularly lengthy and detailed descriptions, the story was BEYOND BEAUTIFUL and the characters were so perfect and amazing and AHHHH. Such a fabulous classic. Natty Bumppo is bae. Oliver is too. And Oliver and Elizabeth are OTP 4 l ...more
Inese Okonova
Jun 02, 2016 Inese Okonova rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nav nekāds noslēpums, ka man ļoti patīk literatūra, un, jo vecāka kļūstu, jo vairāk :) Šī grāmata ir lielisks piemērs. Lasīju, lēni un nesteidzīgi izbaudot garumgaros dabas un cilvēku aprakstus, ko ignorēju pusaudžu gados lasot "Zvērkāvi" un "Pēdējo mohikāni", un īpaši nesatraucoties, ka viena un tā pati doma tiek atkārtota atkal un atkal.
Sarakstīšanas secībā šī ir pirmā grāmata "Ādzeķes stāstu" sērijā, notikumu hronoloģijas ziņā- priekšpēdējā. Šī ir arī visatšķirīgākā no pārējām (vēl nee
I was really looking forward to reading this the last Leatherstocking tale. Even though it had some very good points like a good plot, good character development and a good cause( stressing care and maintenance of the environment) it was like pulling teeth to read. There were too many digressions, the explanations were too long, and the same arguments were used over and over, ad infinitum. It really made me think that the author was getting tired of his subject. Of all the books in the series, t ...more
Nov 17, 2011 Sosen rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooked
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
Paul Preston
Jul 09, 2016 Paul Preston rated it liked it
This book is so obviously written to prove the wrongdoings of early settlers against the American Indian. The Indians only do things to benefit the earth and to save the lives of the bumbling settlers and the settlers only do things to rape the land of its resources. While the long term premise of the book has proven to be sadly accurate the book goes over the top.
The actual story and excitement of the book doesn't even begin until 3/4 of the way through the book, however I do love historical f
Read as part of a reading challenge: Book I should have read in school.

It was tough to get into Cooper's prose when I started... lots of description and explanation, not enough dialogue or action. But there is plenty of both later on.

I think I needed the extra background knowledge before I tackled this; turns out some of my dad's ancestors lived in the Otsego area, so I was better able to connect to the material.
Timothy Boyd
Feb 04, 2016 Timothy Boyd rated it it was ok
Well I have passed the high water mark in this series apparently. Book 3 was the best read of the lot so far. Book 4 returns to the writing of the first 2 books with long rambling discourses by the characters on God, life the Universe and man's place in it. Not a good read and the plot seems to just wander and never go anywhere. Not recommended.
Kristin Boluch
Jan 22, 2015 Kristin Boluch rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 30, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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
Sep 20, 2014 Tahca rated it it was ok
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.
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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...

Other Books in the Series

The Leatherstocking Tales (1 - 10 of 19 books)
  • The Deerslayer (The Leatherstocking Tales, #1)
  • The Last of the Mohicans (The Leatherstocking Tales #2)
  • The Pathfinder (Leatherstocking Tales, #3)
  • The Prairie (Leatherstocking Tales, #5)
  • The Leatherstocking Trilogy: Last of the Mohicans, The Deerslayer & The Pathfinder (Leatherstocking Tales)
  • Leatherstocking Saga
  • The Deer Slayer V1: Or the First Warpath (1841)
  • The Last of the Mohicans  (with Illustrations) (Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales)
  • The Leatherstocking Saga: Parts 1 & 2
  • James Fenimore Cooper: The Leatherstocking Tales I; The Pioneers, The Last of the Mohicans, The Prairie (Library of America)

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