“Uncas saved my life in the coolest and readiest manner, and he has made a friend who never will require to be reminded of the debt he owes.…”
The Last of the Mohicans takes place in 1757 during the French and Indian War (the Seven Years' War), when France and Great Britain battled for control of North America.
At that time, both the French and the British used Native American allies, but the French were particularly dependent, as the more numerous British colonists outnumbered them in the Northeast frontier areas.
Set in the upper New York State wilderness, The Last of the Mohicans details the transport of the two daughters of Colonel Munro, Alice and Cora, to a safe destination at Fort William Henry.
Among the caravan guarding the women are Natty Bumppo, Major Duncan Heyward, and the Indians Chingachgook and Uncas, the novel's key characters.
With its death-defying chases and teeth-clenching suspense, this historical romance established many archetypes of American frontier fiction: the brave, skillful loner (Hawkeye), who rejects white civilization while aiding the settlers; the noble Indian (Chingachgook) who becomes his friend and a plot involving chases, epic battles, and beautiful heroines (Alice and Cora Munro) menaced by an Indian renegade (Magua); and the central role played by the most important "character" of all, the picturesque but dangerous wilderness.
The Last of the Mohicans has been adapted numerous times for films and television.
JAMES FENIMORE COOPER (1789-1851) is considered by many to be America's first great novelist. His most popular work, The Deerslayer, has remained one of the most widely read novels throughout the world, greatly influencing the way many cultures have viewed both the American Indians and the frontier period of U.S. history. Eventually, he published 32 novels, as well as travel books and histories. Cooper invented the genre of nautical fiction, and in the figure of Nathaniel or "Natty" Bumppo, he gave American fiction its first great hero.
“James Fenimore Cooper was the first great American novelist.”
—A. B. Guthrie