Though these brief, profusely illustrated ""First Books"" give a colorful look at their subject, they are idealized, sanitized, and studded with prejudice. ""From holidays to ordinary everyday delights, the Old West was a place of fun and amazement. There was never any complaint of: 'But there's nothing to do!' "" burbles Growing Up, citing hostile Indians, not disease, as the biggest danger: ""Indians liked to take white children captive and raise him or her [sic] in their tribes, sometimes as a servant, sometimes as a family member, often to replace a child who died."" This idea is repeated in Women: ""Black or white, married or single, the frontier woman's biggest fear was capture by Indians."" Brief biographies of women with atypical careers--doctor, lawyer, justice of the peace, outlaw--are included, but the discussion is capped by saying, ""Perhaps we think of divorce and careers as unusual in that day and age because we think of eastern models; women [there] simply didn't have the same freedom to make choices. They were bound by. . . conventions that didn't affect. . .the West."" Perhaps Alter hasn't heard of Belva Lockwood, Elizabeth Blackwell or Sojourner Truth. Even so, it should be possible to praise western women without denigrating achievements in the East. Further reading; index.