The ""war"" in this exciting and exceptionally readable book is again the Civil War; ""the night it was lost"", in the opinion of the perceptive author, was April 24, 1862, when a naval force under Farragut and Porter captured both New Orleans and the control of the Mississippi River, thereby ""severing the Confederacy"". The author places the blame for the loss of the South's largest and most important city squarely on the blunders of the Richmond government. Not until four months after secession did Richmond send an ancient and incompetent general, Twiggs, to command New Orleans, a task beyond his abilities; the reports of the efficient but unpopular General Lovell, who replaced him, were ignored or altered by Jefferson Davis. Deaf to warnings, certain that New Orleans would be attacked from up-river, Richmond neglected the city's down-stream defenses and sent its fleet up the Mississippi, while in the city itself work on two great ironclads, Mississippi and Louisiana, each capable of ending the Northern blockade, was so delayed that when Farragut attacked they were still unfinished. The capture of New Orleans, vividly described by the author, was a blow from which the South never recovered: the Confederacy was cut in two; cotton exports and food supplies dwindled; the blockade was intensified, and foreign aid, on which Richmond depended, failed to materialize. Carefully annotated and brilliantly written, this fine study does for one of the South's major tragedies what Moorehead did in his memorable Gallipoli. This should override the surfeited feeling of most readers in regard to the Civil War, and is a must for the buffs.