A fascinating, detail-rich survey of daily life in the tumultuous Civil War era, with a focus on the burgeoning middle class. As did authors of the previous two volumes in the Everyday Life In Early America series, Sutherland (History/McNeese State Univ., Louisiana) has pored over diaries, letters, and newspapers as well as scores of secondary sources to put together a tangible portrait of this pivotal period. Beginning with the thousands of young men who went off to war only to find their patriotic impulse answered by disease, filth, and privation, Sutherland presents both the minutia and the larger forces that shaped daily life. With increasing disparity in wealth, homes and furnishings ranged from the meanest hovels to Victorian mansions, while mass production and advertising gave the middle-class access to and desire for more and more goods. Though still largely an agricultural nation, America found modern manufacturing eliminating the apprenticeship system and absorbing increasing amounts of unskilled labor. With men off at war, women began working out of the home in large numbers, as did children. More and better machinery helped the farmer large and small, but both were at the mercy of floods, drought, fire, locusts, and disease. Crime increased as soldiers mustered out, and the outlaw legend took root around such as the James and Younger brothers. This period also saw the brief heyday of the cowboy, the birth of the department store, and the beginnings of professional baseball. A fine, accessible, and entertaining volume that will add to any reader's understanding of the period.