Fourth volume in Mainstream of America series, this does for the Civil War, South, what is to be done by Bruce Catton for the Civil War, North. Accept, then, some of the strictures of inevitable bias, as Dowdey, Richmond in background, Southern in sympathy, traces the years of war from the ""cold war"" in thirty years of gathering clouds, to the tragic aftermath of ""Reconstruction"". The careful consideration of the viewpoints presented by men like Calhoun and Yancey provide insight into those years when abolition was not the issue, nor yet economic determinism. Fear of Negro uprisings came slowly; tariff and the Wilmot Proviso, the Kansas Nebraska Bill, and the Dred Scott case, Seward's ""Irrepressible conflict"" speech and the paranoic John Brown with the Harper's Ferry raid- these were the nails in the coffin. Then came the walkout at the Democratic National Convention, Lincolin's election -- and Secession. The history of the war years is high spotted by Dowdey's growing bitterness against the part played by Jefferson Davis, whom he blames for attempting to be his own military leader, for playing favorites, using polities as a major issue, and refusing to put the cause ahead of his own desires. Politically, says Dowdey, the war ended at Sharpsburg. Total war was let loose as Davis turned from habitual disillusion to disordered grasping at wan hopes. In the North the end of preserving the Union was forgotten in making the invasion successful, and while Sherman marched to the sea, mathematics caught up with General Lee. Dowdey's own hero worship is directed towards Stonewall Jackson and Lee, while his succinct characterizations of other generals will be long remembered: John Pope, ""loud-mouthed braggart""; Fromont, ""foolish posturer""; ""psychotic Bragg"". While he fails to recognize the stature of Lincoln -- accusing him of fumbling practices -- he does call his assassination the final Calamity to overtake the South, as the spoils-men and the haters seized control and the Confederacy was put under martial law. There's the gift of a story teller applied to the makings of history here.