Mr. Reinfeld writes about the trappers and the West with the same alacrity as he does of chess; his balanced portrayal of the great region between the Mississippi and the Pacific Ocean should prove the antidote to the many sentimental and eulogistic biographies of the mountain men, the novels and the non-fiction that have only aggrandized our efforts in the West without placing them in proper historical perspective. Beginning with the view of the continent that was current when first settlers were offered land grants, the text moves quickly into the various French, Spanish and English trading expeditions that slowly opened up the vast territory that was to be acquired by the U. S. in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. The Indians who already inhabited it are considered next and here Mr. Reinfeld's analysis of their general psychology and the problems inevitably created in dealing with Whites is excellent. Astor's grand plan in the beaver trade, the exploratory expeditions started by Lewis and Clark, the function of the mountain men as advance scouts who did not realize what their journeys meant- all are given play on a full but well defined stage. It is through the specific examples of action and interaction that the significance of the opening of the West takes form.