It was one of the most popular English-language novels of its time, and helped establish Cooper as one of the first world-famous American writers. Although stylistic and narrative flaws left it open to criticism since its publication, and its length and distinctive prose style have reduced its appeal to later readers, The Last of the Mohicans remains embedded in American literature courses.
Mohicans was the second book by Cooper, following Pioneers in 1823, to feature the pioneer Natty Bumppo, who is usually called Hawkeye. Bumppo was a personification of rugged individualism and pioneer spirit that remains central to the American identity to this day.
The story is set in the British colony of New York State during the French and Indian War, and concerns a massacre of a colonial garrison and a fictional kidnaping of two pioneer sisters.
Two Native American tribes (Mohicans and Hurons), typified in the characters of the noble Chingachgook and Uncas and the gothic evil of Magua, are stylized and deeply inaccurate, but were also influential on the public imagination - at the time, and also later, debating the means and morality of Indian removals. Cooper developed his account based on existing writings and his imagination, rather than actual contact with any individuals
A number of films have been based on the book. The elongated nature of the novel has meant that considerable re-working is necessary to create a movie of endurable length. There were attempts in 1911, 1920, 1932, 1936 and 1992. The 1920 version directed by Clarence Brown and Maurice Tourneur is well regarded, as is George Brackett Seitz's 1936 film. The 1992 film by Michael Mann is clearly modelled on the 1936 version. A number of television movies and serials have also been made.