As a monumental record of the man, Fenimore Cooper, this work will be found invaluable, for it contains much personal material heretofore unpublished.
A life of Cooper, written with some particular reference to the picturesque village among the Otsego hills, where he so long lived and in whose soil he, for some sixty years or more, has slept, has long been needed. That such a book should have become a labor of love in the hands of Miss Phillips is not more interesting than it is fortunate that the task should have been accomplished so conspicuously well. Miss Phillips has borne testimony to the resourcefulness and rare devotion with which the late Mr. Keese assisted her in researches extending over many years. None knew so well as he the personal side of Cooper's whole life story; none so assiduously and so lovingly, during a long life spent in Cooperstown, gathered and tried to preserve in their integrity every significant and interesting detail of it.
The turning point in Cooper's life was reached when he went to Cooperstown, although he was little more than a child in arms. Most curious is it that his going should have resulted from the foreclosure of a mortgage. This mortgage had been given in the late Colonial period by George Croghan, and covered a vast tract of native forest lands in Otsego. In these lands, through the foreclosure, Cooper's father, soon after the Revolution, acquired a large interest, which led him to abandon his home of ease and refinement in Burlington, New Jersey, and found a new, and, as it proved to be, a permanent one in the unpeopled wilderness at the foot of Otsego Lake. Except for this accident of fortune, Leatherstocking and his companions of the forest never could have been created by the pen of Cooper.