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The Pioneers

Narrated by: Jim Killavey
Length: 15 hrs and 55 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Summary

While portraying life in a new settlement on New York's Lake Otsego in the final years of the 18th century, Cooper deftly explores the cultural and philosophical underpinnings of the American experience. He contrasts the natural codes of the hunter and woodsman, Natty Bumpo, and his Indian friend, John Mokegan, with the more rigid structure of law required by a more complex society.

This is the fourth in Cooper's series of five books known as the Leatherstocking Tales, which were arranged according to the chronology of their hero, Natty Bumpo.

©1986 Jimcin Recordings

Critic reviews

" The Pioneers is a rich chronicle of early frontier life filled with action, adventure, romance, and history." ( The Literature Network)

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Profile Image for Louise M
  • Louise M
  • 16-02-08

Excellent and Insightful

This book has has many strange twists and turns and is both historical, in the broad sense of historical fiction, and an adventure story. It is written, as were most books back then in a rather rambling and wordy style. This was, after all, way before radio and TV and people liked their entertainment to last. Some readers of today, however, may not have the patience for a work like this. I like to do a little research on the classics I get and found an encyclopedia article that said the book "may be considered one of the first ecological novels in the United States." ( from Wikipedia.org ) That statement intrigued me but turned out to be quite true. There are many discussions in it about conservation and the use of natural resources. Amazing insight
for its time! The narrator was pretty good but made what I thought were a few pronunciation errors. However I checked them out and they were ok - alternatives pronunciations in a couple of cases, but acceptable.
Five Stars

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ted
  • Ted
  • 15-01-13

Very good not as good as Deerslayer

Where does The Pioneers rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Medium it is not as good as the previous books

Would you be willing to try another book from James Fenimore Cooper? Why or why not?

Yes

Have you listened to any of Jim Killavey’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes very good

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

After the wilderness

Any additional comments?

Good book finishes his other stories that were great.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Max
  • 06-01-17

Poor recording

I very much enjoyed the novel. I was very irritated by the lack of any space between the chapters. Often the new chapter would cut off the last part of the final sentence from the previous chapter. Other than that, I enjoyed part 4 in the Leatherstocking series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for K. Doerr
  • K. Doerr
  • 25-11-19

Old fashioned but still relevant, edition is poor

I'm listening through all the leather-stocking tales, which are not only good stories, but little time capsule glancing back to a vanished American culture. Cooper's sensibilities are surprisingly modern, more modern in some ways than Samuel Clemens', who was born later, but raised in a southern (border) state.

This book is especially interesting because it gives a sympathetic but contemporary glimpse at the conflict between American 'Pioneers' and the indigenous people and genuine frontiersmen whose land they settled. These books are in some ways the first 'western' novels, but they do not have any of the simple-minded racism of the movie westerns Hollywood churned out in the 1950s. In the context of our time, the book will be considered racist, of course. Taken in the context of its own time, the book is progressive.

Though it takes place after 'the last of the Mohicans' this was published earlier. But it is more politically relevant today than that more famous work. The Pioneers was published seven years before the ethnic cleansing of Jackson's genocidal "Trail of Tears," and it reminds us that, even 190 years ago, the 'nativist' and 'manifest destiny' movements were objected to by many Americans (Cooper's books were popular at the time). The book is also a poignant warning and reminder that the difference between right and wrong can be over-ridden by corrupt interest combined with jingoism.

It also seems to me that Oliver Wendell Holmes 'Breakfast Table' books, written 30+ years later, owe something to the first few chapters of this novel. At any rate, the conversations among the 'Pioneers' seem authentic, and to have the same 'culture of conversation' that existed then, but has died away now. A time when Americans could disagree without name calling - definitely worth remembering.

Killavey has a clear voice and his words are always easy to catch and understand. His female falsetto is problematic, but that's not unusual in a male reader. But his pronunciation is more problematic (I blame this on the editor, more than the narrator). I'm guessing he is from the UK, based on the way he pronounced 'slough' (to rhyme with bough, rather than through - the way an American would pronounce it, and the way the characters in the book would have pronounced it). But why a Brit would be brought in to read Fenimore Cooper is beyond my guess. And how a Brit could think that the interjection 'och' (which is Scottish, after all) should be pronounced to rhyme with 'botch' is a mystery (and an annoyance) to me. These are just two examples of many mistakes. Any American listener will catch several more errors.

The editing is problematic in other ways, too. The transitions between chapters is non-existent. Between the last word of one chapter, the statement of the title of the next chapter, and the first word of the next chapter, there is no time-space at all. The chapter titles were clearly added afterwards, but they were added badly. Indeed, the last words of at least one chapter were simply chopped off. I suspect Mr. Killavey's voice, probably more sonorous in real life, was 'sped up' by the editors, too.

In sum, I heartily recommend the book, but not this audio edition.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-11-19

Great Story...Performance was not so Great

You really have listen carefully to this version of the Pioneers. The production seems to have the performance set one notch below Alvin and Chipmunks. It what seems a race to the finish, the performance seems to not take a breath!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • alan
  • 20-06-09

Painfully bad reading of a 1790's country tale

An interesting account of social rituals and the invasions of government into rural life in the 1790's, nearly ruined by the worst reader who has ever massacred a book. Does he pause after every four words hallucinating nonexistent commas, or is he short-winded? Does he accent the wrong words in every sentence because he is reading the text for the first time? The mispronounciations are the least of his sins. This would be a charming comedy of up-country manners, frontier politics, and Revolution-era diction, but the tour is made painful by the halting, spavined nag we are forced to ride. The book is worth the time if you're interested in American history or the old age of Natty and Chingatchcook - but find a version read by anybody else.

6 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jill
  • Jill
  • 01-09-19

time for a remake

The narrator is killing me. He enunciates well but he is just reading in a singsong manner with no sense that he's paying attention to what he's saying. I don't think I can make it through because of his voice. I've read the book before so it's not the writing style that is offputting. It's the poor reading style.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennifer Kabat
  • 05-12-16

Only if you live in the Leatherstocking Region

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I live here, in the hills of James Fenimore Cooper; so while his narrative drags (it's his first novel, I believe, and characterization? Plot? etc etc seem largely unknown... ) the book offers a picture of life in the 18th century,. For that alone it is fascinating. The pigeon slaughter, the sugaring, the snow... Then aside from Cooper's flaws, the narration was super strange-- tinny voice, reverb, weird skips.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • clark
  • 15-04-11

Poor Reading

The book is not bad. I found the performance to be so utterly unbearable that I had to abandon the book after 15min. The reader's voice is monotone and has an unnatural rythem. I would preview this before downloading if a reader's voice can throw you off a book.

2 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for David P. Medici
  • David P. Medici
  • 30-06-15

The reader was difficult to listen to

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I think someone who is less sensitive to reading styles and accents

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

The story is fine.

How could the performance have been better?

I am sure that reader was doing what he thought was a good job. I think for some reason I could not settle into the story with his choppy reading style.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The original book without the narration is a classic

0 of 2 people found this review helpful