The role the peddler played in emergent America offers Mr. Dolan an excuse for a pleasant excursion into the past. Stretching the definition beyond that of itinerant salesman, it extends to the men who dealt in skills and services -- from tinkers, weavers and cabinet makers to doctors, ministers and lawyers. From the mid 1600's when enterprising young men bought small goods from returning sailors at the Boston pier and started on their routes by Indian path or river with pack or raft, through the post-Revolutionary period with stagecoaches and toll roads, then an abundance of inns and taverns easing travel, to the coming of the railroads (managed by such peddler alumni as Jim Fisk), the peddler had a pervasive if not influential effect on American life. Mr. Dolan is as interested in the peddler's wares -- many present-day desirables known as antiques -- as he is in the men who carried them. His book is a catchall of anecdote and odd fact varied as a Yankee peddler's pack.