Purportedly a rehabilitation of some unsung heroes of the West--the Indians, mulattoes, and voyageurs who acted as translators and guides to white adventures--this account contains little of historical worth. Rather than telling readers how the guides actually performed their invaluable services, the book swiftly degenerates into what is for the most part a tale of encounters between lusty men of several races and the ever-willing Indian maids. As a frontier Margaret Mead, Speck is inhibited by his awkward prose and stilted approach--is there such a thing as a mid-Victorian leer? The book is further injured by unmistakable--if perhaps unconscious--bias. ""Breed"" and ""half-breed"" are of course derogatory expressions. The author insists on generalizing about the Indians' ""unpredictability,"" and on referring to their white employers as their ""masters."" A history in True-style, likely to displease Original Americans and their admirers.