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The Deerslayer (Bantam Classics) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This novel, Cooper's last contribution to his five-volume "Leatherstocking Tales," introduces Natty Bumppo as a young frontiersman in early 18th-century New York and keeps him busy rescuing white women from Indians. Since Cooper actually wrote this book last in his series, one would expect it to be competently written. However, it's impossible to listen to it without thinking of Mark Twain's savage essay "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses," in which he calls The Deerslayer a "literary delirium tremens." Very apt. The book takes forever to go nowhere, and its dialog is a tortuous blend of stilted literary English and wholly imaginary frontier dialect. Such imperfections may be passed over on the printed page, but they are impossible to ignore when given voice. Narrator Raymond Todd reads descriptive passages just fine, but no one can make Cooper's dialog sound like real speech. This is better left to print editions. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“James Fenimore Cooper was the first great American novelist.”—A. B. Guthrie

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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics (February 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553210858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553210859
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #340,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan B. Sims on October 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Had "Deerslayer" been James Fenimore Cooper's first "Leatherstocking" tale -- who knows? Maybe it would have been his last! But his mythic hero, Nathaniel Bumppo (a.k.a. Natty, Deerslayer, The Long Carrabine, Hawkeye, et. al.)had such a mid-19th Century following that Cooper was practically guaranteed an eager, receptive audience for his tales.
I won't say straight out that "Deerslayer" is a terrible book. If nothing else, Donald Pease's introductory essay informs us of several plot complexities that are intertwined with Cooper's personal life, such as the re-invention of Natty Bumppo to buttress and justiry Cooper's real-life legal property claims. But, if "Deerslayer" is not a terrible book, it is for hundreds of pages something less than scintillating. Why? I think it comes down to this. Patient readers can endure quite a lot of moralizing, or wide swaths of verbosity. But put the two together and it's hard to endure.
The story takes place on Cooper's real-life ancestral home, Lake Otsego in mid-upstate New York (my friends tell me the pronunciation is "Otsaga" with a short "a") where we first encounter a youthful Natty Bumppo and his unlikely fellow traveler, Harry "Hurry" March, an indestructible, Paul Bunyonesque figure whose credo can be summarized as "might makes right." Natty (given the sobriquet, Deerslayer, by his adopted Delaware tribe) has arrived at the lake to join his companion, Chingachgook, (the "Serpant"), in his quest to liberate his future bride, Wah-ta-Wah, who was kidnapped by a band of Huron Indians.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By nto62 on May 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
Cooper's final Leatherstocking Tale, The Deerslayer, depicts young Natty Bumppo on his first warpath with lifelong friend-to-be, Chingachgook. The story centers around a lake used as the chronologically subsequent setting for Cooper's first Leatherstocking Tale, The Pioneers. Tom Hutter lives on the lake with his daughters and it is here that Deerslayer (Bumppo) intends to meet Chingachgook to rescue Chingachgook's betrothed from a band of roving Iroquois. A desperate battle for control of the lake and it's immediate environs ensues and consumes the remainder of the story.
Throughout this ultimate Leatherstocking Tale, Cooper provides Natty much to postulate upon. Seemingly desiring a comprehensive finality to the philosophy of Bumppo, Cooper has Natty "speechify" in The Deerslayer more so than in any other book, though the character could hardly be considered laconic in any. Though the reason for this is obvious and expected (it is, after all, Cooper's last book of the series), it still detracts a tad from the pace of the story as Natty picks some highly inappropriate moments within the plot to elaborate his position. And, thus, somewhat incongruently, Cooper is forced to award accumulated wisdom to Bummpo at the beginning of his career rather than have him achieve it through chronological accrual.
All things considered, however, The Deerslayer is not remarkably less fun than any other Leatherstalking Tale and deserves a similar rating. Thus, I award The Deerslayer 4+ stars and the entire Leatherstocking Tales series, one of the better examples of historical fiction of the romantic style, the ultimate rating of 5. It was well worth my time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen VINE VOICE on June 11, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Deerslayer" is the sequentially first in the Leatherstocking series of America's first, great, professional novelist, James Fenimore Cooper. I read it in preparation for a trip to Cooperstown, New York and I am glad that I did. Set in upstate New York in the 1740s, it provides the reader with an idolized introduction to the society of white and red of this colonial frontier.

The criticisms that the dialogue and actions are totally unbelievable, while justified, do not detract from the story. While the simple, faith-filled actions of the "Feeble Minded Hetty" and the dialogue between Deerslayer and Chingachgook seem highly improbable, the do hold the readers' interest. While I am generally not one to pick up readily on character development, this novel is an exception. The contrast between Deerslayer and Chingachgook, the romance between Chingachgook and Wah-ta-Wah, the romantic web among Judith, Hurry Harry and Deerslayer, and the varying responses to changes in circumstance coming from sisters Judith and Hetty all contribute to the persistent popularity of this work.

Despite all the criticisms directed against Cooper as to form, the one thing that cannot be denied is that this book is very difficult to put down. I found myself always wondering what would come next and what would happen to the characters whom I had come to know. Whether you are looking for an insight into early American literature or just a good story, your search should lead to "The Deerslayer".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Mark Hoover on August 7, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
James Fenimore Cooper wrote his Leatherstocking tales out of chronological order. The Deerslayer or The First Warpath was the last of the Natty Bumppo novels and because Cooper had matured both in age and artistic ability it is perhaps the best.

From the beginning we know this is a darker novel than the preceding tales. In the first few pages Deerslayer's companion, Hurry Harry, asks the young man, "...Did you ever hit any thing human, or intelligible: did you ever pull trigger on an inimy that was capable of pulling one upon you?"

Bumppo's answer is, of course, no. He is at the beginning of his career. He is known as Deerslayer by the Delawares because that's what he does. He has yet to take a human life. As soon as we read this we know this novel, above all else, is a coming-of-age story and someone's life is ticking away....

In the interim Deerslayer meets Tom Hutter and his two daughters, the dark-haired Judith and the feeble-minded Hetty. The family lives on a castle-on-piers in the middle of Lake Glimmerglass, a secluded spot akin to the Garden of Eden -- the perfect setting for a coming-of-age story. Except things are not what they seem. This area is actually more of a haunt of savagery, with not a little of it supplied by both Hurry Harry and Tom Hutter against the local Native American tribe, the Hurons.

Judith Hutter, however, is the engine that drives this story. She's a woman with questionable morals, and though she's somewhat older than Deerslayer she falls in love with his open honesty and his natural way of looking at the world. In a telling exchange she asks him if he has a sweetheart.
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