while military history is not my favorite, having read this book only because it was assigned, McPherson's work is perhaps the most complete account of the civil war, its causes, duration and aftermath. an essential read for those interested in the conflict, however, if it's a social history of the war you looking for, look elsewhere.
I live in the South now and often hear people talking about Southern Heritage, the Civil War, the Rebels, etc. I was curious as to what was taking place during that time, not only in the battlefield but in every day society. A history professor recommended this book.
I found it fascinating and quite informative. If you are looking for an objective look into the Civil War era and what was happening before, during, and after the war, this book is for you.
If you read only one book on the American Civil War, make it this one.
This book was commissioned as part of the Oxford History of the United States and won the Pulitzer Prize for History for its author. And for very good reasons, this book is the single best volume on this tragic but perhaps necessary event in American history.
To understand the War of the Rebellion, as Lincoln called it, you need to go back further than April 1861 and the firing on Fort Sumter. You need to understand the causes of the war and the many political compromises that tried to solve the problems in American society and why they failed. And this outstanding book takes you there.
I have a different take than a previous reviewer, having satiated my appetite for the military history of the war; This gives a pretty good short history of the time leading up to the civil war and the causes, albiet usually through the eyes of newspapers. It doesn't get to the Fort Sumter conflict until page 263, and uses the battles as a backdrop to the social and political events (unless you wanted to consider the social and political events as backdrops to the battles, I suppose).