Books: The Beaver Era

THIS RECKLESS BREED OF MEN (361 pp.) —Robert Glass Cleland—Knopf ($4).

"TO ENTERPRISING YOUNG MEN," Said the notice in the Missouri Republican—"The subscriber wishes to engage one hundred young men to ascend the Missouri River to its source, there to be employed for one, two, or three years ..."

The notice, signed by William H. Ashley, militia general and Missouri businessman, was just about as vague as most other help-wanted ads, but it brought results. Applicants fresh from "the grogshops and other sinks of iniquity in the rough frontier river town of St. Louis" helped fill the quota, and on April 3,...

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