A follow-the-footprints historical survey of the early history of America -- which has a free-from-shackles approach that is alive and contagious. For Bakeless has taken old records and documents, accepted evidence and textbook pontifications and lined them up against new theories and findings -- and let the reader be the judge. You can have white men involuntarily migrating -- on a raft -- to the Pacific Islands, you can make up your mind about the red man's life in the North and in the South -- and from then on you can follow the course of exploration and discovery, pioneering right through to California. It's all here-from Columbus to Cabeza de Vaca and Coronado, de Soto, Champlain and Cartier; Verendrye, Verrazano, Hudson, La Salle, Jolliet and Marquette, Lewis and Clark, on up through Cook -- from the East through the mid-west and on to California in contemporary descriptions and findings, from the big water, to the rivers and the land in the eras of penetration. A record of pre-views --what they saw and did, friendship and hostility, sachems and settlers, what the old journals meant in correlation with what modern science has found out, together with some tall tales toned down -- this gives a continuous flow of ""firsts"" which does not lack special impact, as footnotes to standard history and as eye-openers for the curious-minded.