[The Tangled Web] deserves special attention . . . First, there’s Madden’s background. In 1992, he founded the U.S. Civil War Center in New Orleans. Since 1962, he’s been writing novels and essays that have earned him a unique place among American literary writers . . . And now he’s combining his best scholarship and writing into a volume that proposes we look at the defining period in American history as would a novelist.