James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) was born in New Jersey but grew up in Cooperstown, NY, founded by his father when Cooper was one year old. He enrolled at Yale at the age of thirteen, but was expelled in his third year for misbehavior. He then sailed before the mast as a merchant seaman and as a midshipman in the U.S. Navy, experiences that led to his successful sea novels, such as The Pilot (1823). The Leatherstocking Tales were published from 1823 to 1841. Arranged according to the chronology of their hero, Natty Bumppo, who appears under various names in all five romances, the sequence is The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder, The Pioneers, and The Prairie.
John Stauffer is a professor of English, African, and African American Studies, and the History of American Civilization at Harvard University. He is the author of the award-winning The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (2002) and numerous essays in such publications as Time, Raritan, and 21st: The Journal of Contemporary Photography.
Thomas Berger (1924-2014) worked as a librarian and a journalist before his first novel, Crazy in Berlin, was published in 1958. Other novels include Little Big Man (1964), Neighbors (1980), The Feud (1984), Best Friends (2003), and Adventures of the Artificial Woman (2004).