An economics-oriented survey of the causes of the Civil War, with the important proviso that the framing of that war as a confrontation between Northern industrialism and Southern agriculture constitutes ""an ex post facto analysis. . . only dimly apprehended by the generations that fought. . . ."" If competition for the control of western lands, the tariff conflict and the precarious situation of the Southern aristocracy constituted, perhaps, sufficient conditions for conflict, Goldston gives the moral outrage of the abolitionists its due as a powerful and independent factor in strengthening the North's will to fight and shows that, though the majority of Southerners were economically harmed by slavery (in 1850 1000 Southern families received fully half of the total income), they supported the institution because they had a strong ""emotional investment."" Goldston traces the series of political compromises, designed to preserve the union of two irreconcilable philosophies, from the concessions embodied in the Constitution itself to the split of the Democratic party over Douglas' ""Freeport Doctrine"" and the surrender of Fort Sumter. Given this chronological scope, the tone of the narrative is necessarily abstract, but as a summary it's moderate, concise and a likely supplement to the author's The Negro Revolution (1968).