From a Wall Street Journal online review:
The so-called winning of the West is one of the fundamental dramas in American history, and Mr. Brands makes the most of his subject by quoting extensively from the participants’ own accounts. In his chapters on Lewis and Clark, he cites the explorers’ descriptions of the daunting cataracts on the Missouri and Columbia rivers and their reaction on reaching their goal.
In “Dreams of El Dorado,” H.W. Brands has made his job even harder by taking on such a broad swath of western history, from Thomas Jefferson’s seminal purchase of Louisiana, in 1803, to Theodore Roosevelt’s sweeping measures to conserve western resources and landscapes, more than a century later. That’s a lot of history to crowd into just over 500 pages—as Mr. Brands no doubt appreciates, since his own books on Texan independence and the California Gold Rush were each somewhat longer than that.