Vandiver, a Rice University professor and author of several previous books on the Confederacy, is very much at home with his material; hence this narrative history of the Southern experience of the Civil War has a flow of content as well as a colorful style. Aspects of the struggle such as transport, supply, and fund-raising are made absorbing; scholarly points (e.g. that the South made far more direct use of Negroes during the war than historians think) are subordinate. Vandiver focuses on the trials of the Confederate command: unification, administration, conscription, army organization and reorganization, military theory (planners at first didn't know that ""strategy is indivisible"" in relation to the social fabric), hunger riots, infantry attrition, dealings with England, and a Congress ""less than the sum of its parts."" The unobtrusively annotated, quietly sympathetic chronicle is interspersed with profiles of lesser-known figures and reports of what Lincoln was up to. Basic academic issues (Old South patterns of life, the tariff struggle, the Western-expansion issue) are bypassed; it's not an academic book, nor a really distinguished one, but students can make use of it and those notorious Civil War buffs will seek it out.