Angered by the values of his materialistic society, Hawk-eye lives apart from the other white men, sharing the solitude and sublimity of the wilderness with his Mohican Indian friend, Chingachgook. As the savageries of war test these exiled men, they agree to guide two sisters in search of their father through hostile Indian country - even if it means risking everything. An enduring American classic, The Last of the Mohicans is a fast-paced portrait of fierce individualism and courage, set against massacres, raids, battles and a doomed love affair. It is also the unforgettable story of the friendship between two men.
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) grew up at Otsego Hall, his father's manorial estate near Lake Otsego in upstate New York. Educated at Yale, he spent five years at sea, as a foremast hand and then as a midshipman in the navy. At thirty he was suddenly plunged into a literary career when his wife challenged his claim that he could write a better book that the English novel he was reading to her. The result was Precaution (1820), a novel of manners. His second book, The Spy (1821), was an immediate success, and with The Pioneers (1823) he began his series of Leatherstocking Tales. By 1826 when The Last of the Mohicans appeared, his standing as a major novelist was clearly established. From 1826 to 1833 Cooper and his family lived and traveled in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. Two of his most successful works, The Prairie and The Red Rover, were published in 1827. He returned to Otsego Hall in 1834, and after a series of relatively unsuccessful books of essays, travel sketches, and history, he returned to fiction - and to Leatherstocking - with The Pathfinder (1840) and The Deerslayer (1841). In his last decade he faced declining popularity brought on in part by his waspish attacks on critics and political opponents. Just before his death in 1851 an edition of his works led to a reappraisal of his fiction and somewhat restored his reputation as the first of American writers.