James Fenimore Cooper was a prolific and popular American writer of the first half of the 19th century. His historical romances of frontier and Indian life in the early American days created a unique form of American literature. The Crater; or, Vulcan's Peak: a Tale of the Pacific is a novel in which Cooper incorporated knowledge of ship construction he had acquired while working as a midshipman. From merely surviving the loss of his shipmates and the embayment of his ship within The Reef, protagonist Mark Woolston goes on to thrive by his own industry. Following a regional volcanic upheaval which raises new land, he founds a similarly industrious and thriving colony after escaping from, then returning to, The Reef. The outnumbered colonists must defend their new homes and possessions against natives who covet the new land.