In the West, ""hope and opportunity often existed side by side with disappointment and hardship."" This volume, along with companion books, People of the West and The Gold Rush, are intended to coordinate with public television's upcoming series, ""The West,"" but work just as well as stand-alone overviews of a complex subject. The book opens with the story of Native Americans, who first settled the vast lands from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, and proceeds with the pioneers, who decided to make all of those territories their own by slaughtering the first inhabitants. With ample black-and-white photographs and quotes (in large type) of many primary sources incorporated into the design, the book offers both browsers and serious researchers a way into the text. Stephen Ives and Ken Burns provide an introduction. Readers will marvel at the spirit of these American pioneers, as well as their perseverance, and will welcome this balanced and thoughtful treatment of an exciting era.