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The Pioneers (The Leatherstocking Tales #4)

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  2,294 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
Originally published in 1823, The Pioneers is the first of Cooper's five Leatherstocking Tales, and the one that incorporates most fully his own experience of growing up in a town of the American frontier. The heart of the novel is a conflict over who owns America, and by what concept of right. The competing claims of Native Americans, Tory loyalists, roving hunters, and v ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published September 29th 1988 by Penguin Classics (first published 1823)
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Oct 24, 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
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
Jun 07, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 17, 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
Sep 03, 2015 Ce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
Sorry James, but this sucks !
Atika  Patel
Aug 15, 2016 Atika Patel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tracey Billson
Nov 20, 2016 Tracey Billson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lyl
I read a review of the book and it stated that this book is based very much on Cooper's own experiences. For the character of the Judge he used his father. Cooper was concerned at how quickly the area he grew up in was being changed and wondered if it was all good. Chopping down trees that may have taken a generation to grow was a concern, also killing more game than a man could want was another abuse that was occurring.
Because this book is based on reminiscences this made it a pleasure for him
Jan 31, 2014 Steven rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 28, 2011 Mark Oppenlander rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
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
Feb 02, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it
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
Jun 28, 2010 Ross rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
My favourite part of the book is the beginning, which describes Christmas Eve and Christmas day in Templeton. The descriptions of the activities of the settlers gives us a good idea what life was like there. I liked the descriptions of the town and forest in winter as well.
On the negative side, the novel has its share of racism against non-whites, which is ironic since the settlement was founded on land that formerly belonged to the Native Americans.
On the positive side, Judge Temple is appalled
Sarah C
Apr 29, 2014 Sarah C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 06, 2013 Stefanie rated it liked it
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 18, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 12, 2010 Martha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 16, 2011 Sosen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Three stars is much higher than I initially thought I would be giving this book. The first 200 pages were slow and tortuous and I contemplated twice, not finishing the tome. The boastfulness of the characters and in particular by Judge Temple's cousin Richard, was very irritating. However, I found my interest in the book picked up after the fishing trip taken by Natty et al and the unintentional full body baptism of the steward, Benjamin in the lake.
From this point onwards I was able to notice
Paige Mefferd
Although "The Pioneers" has been praised as one of James Fenimore Cooper's most famous and beloved tales, I found it boring at best. There was no presiding plot until the end of the book. While there were several smaller subplots leading up to the primary conflict, the time it took for the book to reach its final conflict was long and grueling. Not only was it boring but it was also confusing. Cooper often introduced seemingly random characters, but they did not last in the book for more than tw ...more
Jan 17, 2017 Erik rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The first half is incredibly slow moving and consists of very little plot. It's nigh unreadable. It picks up a lot in the back end, and I actually enjoyed that a lot. But the beginning is so bad it's really hard to make any kind of recommendation about the book as a whole. At the same time, there are a lot of great points made regarding what the titular pioneers were doing to the forests and animals on the lands they claimed as their own, most of which were probably very revolutionary for their ...more
Jon Berry
Jan 06, 2017 Jon Berry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 19th century, literary, historical romance, exploring various themes still relevant today: gender, ethnicity, environmentalism, colonialism, and the role of government in everyday lives. The plot moves at a slow and steady pace, accelerating about 2/3rds of the way through. The descriptions of the lake, the forest, the mountains, and the town are beautiful. The dialogue is at times hilarious. It requires some patience, but in my view it is worth it.
Chip Hunter
This is, I believe, James Fenimore Cooper's first published work. Before his writings, there were really no great American writers writing stories based in America. Therefore, Cooper is often considered the father of "American" American literature. His writings helped shape the image people all over the world had of America.

To me, this novel was a disappointment. I was hoping for something a bit more gripping and exciting, but what I found was a sort of feel-good, worry-free tour of a small town
Ben Dutton
Dec 29, 2016 Ben Dutton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A vast improvement on The Spy, this third novel by Fenimore Cooper begins his famous Leatherstocking Tales (of which Last of the Mohicans is the most well known). This is a novel that deals with the clash between the natural world and the urbanisation of wild spaces by settlers. At times the writing, which is incredible lyrical and detailed (Fenimore Cooper knew this landscape intimately), crafts scenes that lovingly show man against nature, but at times he is a little unsubtle (particularly in ...more
Bill Wallace
Oct 01, 2016 Bill Wallace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Long and slow in the telling but astonishing in its details. It took me nearly half of the considerable length of this novel (partly listened to via Librivox and finished in print) to really appreciate its strength and the subtlety of some of its themes. I was surprised at how early in our country's literature, the sense of immeasurable loss of potential and the need for conservation became dominant threads. Apart from the heavily romanticized portrayal of our native Noble Savage (and considerab ...more
Amanda May
Aug 29, 2011 Amanda May rated it it was ok
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
Dec 17, 2016 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this was the first time I have ever read these books by Mr. Cooper. Loved them. I actually have a ginormous volume of the 5 Leatherstocking tales, printed in the order in which he wrote them, which does not match the chronology of the character's life nor the numbers here in Goodreads. It is cited as #4 but it is actually the first one written. (at least according to the editor of this big book). He has a very detailed writing style and of course you have to read past the cultural stereotypes of ...more
Jan 16, 2016 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lee (Rocky)
This started pretty slow but I got into it by the second half. Sometimes in reading older books like this it's difficult to know which part are genuinely weird and which are just conventions of the time and place it was written that I'm just not familiar with, but the pacing was a little difficult to get into and there were some parts where unnecessary excessive detail carried on and on. Overall though I enjoyed the picture of post-Revolution America that it portrayed and will likely read the ot ...more
Jun 29, 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
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List of Years Lit...: The Pioneers: Background and Reading schedule 8 6 Nov 06, 2016 04:50PM  
  • Guy Mannering
  • Letters from an American Farmer and Sketches of Eighteenth-Century America
  • The Octopus: A Story of California
  • Francis Parkman : France and England in North America : Vol. 1 of 2: Pioneers of France in the New World, The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West, The Old Regime in Canada (Library of America)
  • Clotel: or, The President's Daughter
  • New Orleans Sketches
  • White Jacket or, the World on a Man-of-War
  • Men of Iron
  • The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains
  • The Newcomes
  • Rabble in Arms
  • Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp
  • The Last Days of Pompeii
  • Ramona
  • To Have and to Hold: A Tale of Providence and Perseverance in Colonial Jamestown
  • The Man Without A Country
  • The Nigger of the Narcissus and Other Stories
  • Humorous Stories and Sketches
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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