Re: The Spy

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Posted by Brent on April 27, 2000 at 15:35:51:

In Reply to: Re: The Spy posted by Gayle on April 27, 2000 at 10:24:17:

: Brent,

: It's been a long time since I read "The Spy", but I still think it is a remarkably good book for such an early stage in Cooper's career. Harvey Birch was a brilliant and believable character for the times. It is a shame Cooper was under so much pressure from his publishers to complete the book that the ending was hastily thrown together before he had finished the rest, but I still think Cooper would have come up with pretty much the same conclusion either way. It was his characteristic treatment of a hero who gave his all for a principle, and never failed, in any of his books, to roil the emotions of the readers.

: Cooper gave an excellent picture of the dangers of trying to balance personal and family relationships with opposing loyalties - those who believed America should remain a British possession and those who were determined to fight for a free nation being all intermixed in the complicated circumstances. It was especially poignant regarding those who wanted a free nation, but whose property and wealth had been settled on them by the British. Conflict unlimited!

: I was particularly fascinated by Cooper's description of the depredations of the Skinners. Has their ravaging of the population in Westchester County been covered in any other historical accounts?

: Susan Fenimore Cooper gives a really interesting run-down on the writing of "The Spy" in her book "James Fenimore Cooper: Pages and Pictures". She offers some good insight into her father's development of the characters and plot. Well worth reading.

: Thanks for posting in on your interest in Cooper's books. We've got a goodly number of "Cooperphiles" in Mohicanland, and we always enjoy a good book discussion.

: Gayle

I agree that Cooper did an excellent job depicting all sides of the Revolution; the Patriots fighting against "tyranny", the Loyalists faithfully supporting the Crown, and the neutral folks who were just trying to live their lives without getting involved. It's a very modern way of looking at the war, which is truly remarkable since it was written in a time that was dominated by patriotic propaganda.

Westchester County was a very interesting area of the war, a no-man's land between the two armies, terrorized by the roving bands of cowboys and skinners. In my readings of the Revolution I've found very little on this subject. I can only vaguely remember a referrence to the cowboys and skinners I read sometime in the past, but I can't find it at the moment.


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