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Race relations, environmental concerns, independent womanhood, the importance of personal character, survivalism, heroism, religion, cultural relativism, nature v. nurture, independence v. inter-dependency--sound like the latest hot topics in American TV, movies, and magazines?

Actually, these constitute the bevy of themes that James Fenimore Cooper explored as foundational to the American experience when he wrote *Deerslayer* in 1841, setting it even farther back at the time of the French and Indian War, 1754-63.

Some readers, not surprisingly, are put off by the ornate writing style of the early nineteenth century, but it doesnt hurt us post-moderns to turn off the TV and take a slower pace, interacting slowly with the writer and his thoughts.

In Natty Bumppo, we find the first--and definitive--delineation of the American hero: selfless, dependable, restrained, tolerant, cagey, and moral. A generation raised on anti-heroes sometimes has a bit of a problem with the morality of Bumppo, but since 9/11, we have seen a revival of the American ideal that Cooper first defined in his Leatherstocking Tales.

Dont give up on this one because of the language. Sit a bit and mull it over. Youll find Cooper will deliver remarkably well.

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