The third and final volume in Bruce Catton's Centennial History of the Civil War summons once again, as in The Coming Fury and Terrible Swift Sword (p. 756, 1961 and p. 336, 1963) the urgencies and agonies of battle, the intricate manuevers of command, the terrible trials of leaders tested by fire whether at the front or at the capitals. The author picks up the thread of the war in December, 1862, when Jefferson Davis travelled from Richmond to the Mississippi Valley drawn by grave problems of command, strategy and public morale, feeling that the war had entered its most dangerous period. He carries it through the long drumbeat of battles waged with human failings and strengths revealed, to the time when Lincoln, even in 1863, could look to the aftermath of war while Davis must still seek to continue it, and beyond, to the fateful meeting at the Appomattox Courthouse, when Lee's surrender repealed forever the simple, impossible Confederate cry, ""All we ask is to be let alone."" This is essentially the story of the generals, with the powerful figures of Lincoln and Davis at their backs; the troops behind them serve in the shadows, appear in numbers ready to do battle or numbers fallen; but the generals with the qualities that made them singular, each one, stand at attention. Mr. Catton is a sympathetic judge of their performance, pausing more often to offer admiration than admonishment, ready with non-partisan understanding. He leaves the nation reunited, a hand other than Mr. Lincoln's at the helm of the ship of state, forging through dark waters to a ""dark, indefinite shore,"" the agonies of Reconstruction yet ahead. Mr. Catton's hand at the helm of this book is marked by a sureness drawn from the certainty of well-sifted knowledge: he has reviewed and recollected in tranquillity all the moves on the board and compassed them, with a superb command, marked by balance and clarity.