James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) was America's first novelist, celebrated for his masterpiece, /The Last of the Mohicans/. Over a prolific career he created a national mythology that endures to this day. According to Daniel Webster, "We may read the nation's history in his life." Yet Cooper was also a provocative figure, ultimately disillusioned with American democracy. He spent his boyhood in the wilds of the frontier, served as a merchant sailor and naval officer, traveled the courts of Europe in an age of upheaval and returned home to scandal and controversy. He conquered the literary world only to fall victim to his own fame. In the first popular biography of Cooper in a generation, historian Nick Louras brings the man and his age vividly to life.