A Single Grand Victory is a highly readable, concise, comprehensive narrative by Ethan S. Rafuse, professor of history at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Rafuse worked as a park ranger at Bull Run, where he gained great familiarity with the site and the literature on this battle. His new book incorporates insights offered in recent scholarship on Civil War military, political, and cultural history.
In addition, A Single Grand Victory provides insights into American life in the nineteenth century by examining what motivated men to fight in 1861 and describing what led both North and South to expect the war would be a short one. Southerners had anticipated that one victory like Bull Run would persuade the North to abandon the effort to restore the Union by force. Northerners believed support for the Confederate rebellion was so shallow that one battle would end the war.