Making no pretense of equaling his Civil War studies (A Stillness at Appomattox, Grant Takes Command, etc.), this informal book by one of America's foremost Civil War authorities consists of prefaces to his own books and those of others, book reviews, and essays on subjects ranging from baseball to his home State of Michigan. The reviews, most of them from American Heritage, of which the author is senior editor, cover not only many Civil War books but such accounts as the Life of Christopher Columbus by his son Ferdinand, a study of the rise and fall of the Dreadnought, the lone voyages of Joshua Slocum, and a searching review of The Swordbearers (Correlli Barnet). Of the various addresses and articles reflecting the author's personal viewpoint, one of the best is a speech given before the Society of American Historians, History as Literature, in which he states that history as literature in no way ceases to be history, tells of the difficulties in finding that ""unvarnished truth"" of which history supposedly consists, and deplores the pressure put on young historians to publish. Pleasantly casual, this pick-up-and-put-down material should appeal to those historically inclined readers who enjoy the skilled use of English by a scholar of varied interests and untrammeled knowledge.