Dramatic yet well balanced, a biography framed by chapters outlining Grant's earlier and later life while focusing on his major military campaigns and offering perspectives of civilians in charge as well as of generals and the soldiers who carried out their orders. The author is particularly effective in depicting motivations, whether of patriotic ordinary soldiers or scheming generals; he points out that Lee personally abhorred both slavery and secession but felt honor bound to defend his home state, while Lincoln, Grant, and other Union generals insisted that they were fighting only to preserve the Union. Graphically, he portrays the waste and slaughter that destroyed young soldiers' visions of easy victories, and the sufferings of civilians in this first ""total war."" Moving effortlessly from one viewpoint to another, Marrin considers Grant's mistakes and failures along with his hard-won successes, humanizing his portrait with details of a loving family life and struggles with political and military enemies. An excellent complement to Jim Murphy's The Boy's War (1990). Contemporary illustrations (mostly portraits); source notes; extensive bibliography; index.