Books can take a reader inside lifestyles that we would otherwise never dream of - such a book is Pat Ament's "A History of Free Climbing in America - Wizards of Rock" (Wilderness Press, 382 pages, soft cover, $24.95).

Free climbing is the ascent of sheer rock walls. Perhaps you've seen climbers at play on the relatively small rocks in the lower end of the Columbia Gorge.

Ament's history of the sport goes back to John Muir, and even into pre-history, when Native Americans made such ascents to dwellings in the Southwest.

He does not present a "how-to" approach nor a guide, free climbing is dangerous. Read this book as an adventure story, and seek its insight into a strange way of life, looking for dangerous, difficult rocks and cliffs to ascend for the simple reward of satisfaction.

Free climbers use the tiniest of toeholds and finger holds. They must be very strong: one man does single finger pull-ups, for example.

The book's excellent black and white photos, glossary and a list of recommended reading will help you learn about this strange world.

Guide series

Missoula, Mont., is a fascinating place to visit from here on a long weekend. Use a new book to enjoy it more, "A Guide to Historic Missoula" (Montana Historical Society Press, 181 pages, soft cover, $12.95).

It's the sixth book in the "Montana Mainstreet Series," which already has featured Virginia City, Glendive, Lewiston, Hamilton and Kalispell.

Author Allan James Mathews worked for many years as Missoula's historic preservation officer and now operates a walking tour business. He knows it all, and tells all, in this book.

Missoula started out in 1860 as a trading post called Hellgate on the Mullan road that led through Idaho into today's Walla Walla.

Mathews includes not only an index, but a bibliography, a feature that makes any book richer.

Horse sense

"Not magic but common sense," may sum up what Ray Hunt's approach does with horse and rider. His philosophy of treating horse and rider as one is the basis for his famed book, "Think Harmony With Horses," now in its 15th printing by Give-It-A-Go Books, P.O. Box 248, Bruneau, Idaho 83604, for $ 14.95. Milly Hunt edited the book.

Hunt's outlook is interesting and useful to everyone, not just horse people. He dedicates the book to Tom Dorrance, "the man who made it possible," and Hondo, "the horse who made it necessary."

Hunt starts his book with a straight-forward statement: "My belief in life is that we can all get along together if we try to understand one another."

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