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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, and the William J. Beveridge Award
This innovative work of social history, biography, and literary analysis is a study of two men, father and son, who embodied the contradictions that divided America in the early days of the Republic. William Cooper seemed to manifest the nascent American dream: from humble origins he rose to become a wealthy land speculator and a U.S. congressman. His high-handed style of governing resulted in his ultimate fall from power and political disgrace. His son James Fenimore Cooper tried to come to terms with his father's failure in his immensely popular novel The Pioneers, and to reclaim through his imagination all his father had lost. In this book, Alan Taylor uses this story to illustrate the clash between gentility and democracy that was a result of the Revolution, and to show how Americans found a resolution in the creation of new social reforms and new tales that evolved with the expansion of the frontier.
"Marvelous.... Taylor's intellectual grasp never fails."
--The New Yorker