This is an extraordinary book, made so in part by the obvious comparisons between our time and the days occurring just as the Civil War simmered and then exploded into our national history—and into our individual histories. The pace and clarity of the narrative are remarkable. Much of the book's power comes from the use of quotations that place the reader in the middle of things. Such a practice often demonstrates scholarly pretense, but goodness gracious, not so here. Read this book and gain insight (both microscopic and expansive) into our own times. As you read you will—perhaps for the first time—understand why scholars and non-scholars become obsessed with learning about the Civil War, an event that is at once our most profound tragedy and victory. And besides all that, this book uncovers some intriguing new stuff.