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“Perhaps no single novel better demonstrates the full range of Cooper’s mind and art,” the editor comments. “The first two thirds of the book is dominated by an exciting narrative of maritime adventure,” culminating in “a Utopia…which, as it grows corrupt” becomes “a parallel and a warning to America.” The Crater (1847), a late work, has been neglected by specialists and readers in favor of the famous Leather-Stocking series; with the recognition of Cooper’s full significance, the novel acquires crucial importance.