I am reading, The Beaver Men, by Marie Sandoz. I saw the book advertised in TOW or maybe DGW but passed it by as a ho-hum. I then saw it at the Library and since I didn't have to shell out any money I decided to give it a try.
It starts out slow, you have to plow through it, but the book begins in the very early 1600's in Quebec with the French and covers the entire fur trade pretty much. What I found really interesting is that the French and Spanish were in the upper Missouri River area in the 1600's !!!!, almost 200 years before Lewis & Clark. In that respect the book answered a lot of questions I had because the L & C Exp seemed to have had a lot of information and I wondered where they got it.
Most of the time there is some mention that Alexander McKenzie beat L & C to the Pacific Ocean. What I found from this book is that everyone wanted to find a route through what is today the USA but was at the time, French, then Spanish, then French and then American territory with a mild claim by the British. There were numerous prior efforts to get to the Pacidic and they all failed. This makes the L & C effort even more note worthy, the Americans were the only ones to do it, and,,, on the first try! The book is sort of dry reading but there are a lot of facts plus footnotes that provide good sources to check for those wanting to learn more.