This book makes a colorful panorama of the ""pathfinders"", who followed the trail blazed by Lewis and Clark, and contributes a new chapter in recounting the journey of the first group made up of women as well as men. Elliot Steed, financier, was ambitious to found a permanent fur trading post in the disputed Northwest. He appointed Julian as his emissary, but Benton McKenzie, veteran frontiersman, was chief of the expedition. This is no rose-colored picture of pioneering, but realism, spiced with the petty jealousies of men and women, the thwarted ambitions, sex problems, disappointments, smallness, bigness and conflict of normal human emotions. The journey by boat upstream from St. Louis, the fears of Indians, of rival traders, the disappointment when it was realised that a large part of the trip must be made on foot and horseback, overland, the crossing and recrossing of the trail of the expedition by others, briefly members of the expedition or in conflict with it. Multiplicity of characters and sub-plots, continuous dialog, often difficult to identify with the speakers, make it close and hard reading, with occasional high spots of description and a few too few brief bit of action.