In an introduction which recognizes that the selection from the writings of more than noted explorers does not deal with ""the more spectacular...aspects of history"", the editor challenges the reader to go on ""to find out things...the course from Fort Pierrs to Fort Laramie..the range of the grizzly bear..the odor of sage brush.. the flavor of boiled dog.."" There's evidence of an orderly mind in locating history in the helter skelter of explorations of the northern plains between 1804 and 1876, a land mass extending from deep in Canada to northern Mexico, from the western foothills of the Rockies to the eastern jumping off places of explorers, trappers, gold hunters, Indian fighters and settlers. The 36 journals, letters, essays and dispatches were written by men of understanding who broke trails. The thread of history moves across geography by use of an acceptable chronology and unobtrusive scholarship. Lewis and Clark, Prince Maximilian and General Custer, Nicollet, Audubon and a host of others add to our knowledge. For all its length this book is still a compact source of information on a wide range of little known subjects.