The Book


Charles Frazier’s Thirteen Moons is the story of one man’s remarkable life, spanning a century of relentless change. At the age of twelve, an orphan named Will Cooper is given a horse, a key, and a map and is sent on a journey through the wilderness to the edge of the Cherokee Nation, the uncharted white space on the map. Will is a bound boy, obliged to run a remote Indian trading post. As he fulfills his lonesome duty, Will finds a father in Bear, a Cherokee chief, and is adopted by him and his people, developing relationships that ultimately forge Will’s character. All the while, his love of Claire, the enigmatic and captivating charge of volatile and powerful Featherstone, will forever rule Will’s heart.

In a distinct voice filled with both humor and yearning, Will tells of a lifelong search for home, the hunger for fortune and adventure, the rebuilding of a trampled culture, and above all an enduring pursuit of passion. As he comes to realize, "When all else is lost and gone forever, there is yearning. One of the few welcome lessons age teaches is that only desire trumps time."

Will Cooper, in the hands of Charles Frazier, becomes a classic American soul: a man devoted to a place and its people, a woman, and a way of life, all of which are forever just beyond his reach. Thirteen Moons takes us from the uncharted wilderness of an unspoiled continent, across the South, up and down the Mississippi, and to the urban clamor of a raw Washington City. Throughout, Will is swept along as the wild beauty of the nineteenth century gives way to the telephones, automobiles, and encroaching railways of the twentieth. Steeped in history, rich in insight, and filled with moments of sudden beauty, Thirteen Moons is an unforgettable work of fiction by an American master.

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Recommended by Charles Frazier

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Translation Available

Thirteen Moons: Removal is available in Cherokee language translation by Myrtle Driver Johnson. This is the inaugural publication of the Yonaguska Literature Initiative from the Museum of the Cherokee Indian Press.

Tsogadu Nvdo: Tsigegvwovdisgei
By Charles Frazier
Cherokee Translation by Myrtle Driver Johnson
$11.95 paperback

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Cherokee Literature Initiative

This new initiative will translate and publish works of literature in the Cherokee language, beginning with Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier, translated by Myrtle Driver Johnson (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians). This effort will help to preserve the Cherokee language by encouraging literacy in the language. Cherokee has its own form of writing invented in 1821 by Sequoyah, a Cherokee genius who could not read and write in any language when he invented his syllabary, which is still used today.

The Cherokee Literature Initiative was started with a grant from Charles Frazier in partnership with the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, a non-profit organization, and the Tsalagi Aniwoni Committee. Donations to the initiative can be made to the museum, or call: 1-888-665-7249


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Will Thomas and Tsali artifacts

Frequently Asked Questions

What were Thirteen Moons?
The Cherokees were taught to carefully observe from an early age and were knowledgeable about plants, animals, and the changing seasons. They marked the solstices, equinoxes, and phases of the moon. They, like other tribes, observed that there are thirteen lunar months in every year.
Was there a woman named Claire Featherstone?
Did the Cherokees have plantation houses?
Yes, from about 1800-1838 there were about a dozen Cherokee men who were wealthy landowners who had large houses, landholdings, and African slaves. Joseph Vann, in 1835, owned more than 1,000 acres of land, 110 slaves, blacksmith shops, ferries, stores, orchards, stills, taverns, racehorses, and a steamboat named the Lucy Walker.
Did the Cherokees do the Booger Dance as described in Thirteen Moons?
Women sometimes participated, although rarely. Hornets' nests were used as masks. To Order the Book - Click Here


Audio book of Cherokee translation of Thirteen Moons: Removal, read by Myrtle Driver Johnson, the translator, will be available in late summer 2008.