This series entry delivers exactly what the title says.
There is nothing surprisingly new in Wright’s gathering of United States Civil War facts, and most of the material centers on slavery and battles. The book is mostly laid out in page-long spreads, built up of colored boxes of highlights, an eye-catching collection of artwork, and a timeline running along the foot of the page. Various characters receive modest attention: generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, John Brown, Andrew Johnson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and, of course, Abraham Lincoln throughout. Signal battles, technology, and political maneuvering are also touched upon. Where Wright will capture readers is in the details: torpedo boats, code breakers, giant mortars ferried by railroad cars, “Sherman the Destroyer,” the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and Native Americans brought to prominence (Confederate Gen. Stand Watie, Grant’s secretary Ely S. Parker, the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters). The result is a historical narrative that is not so much disjointed as scattershot, with a concentration of activity surrounding the famous battles and sieges and a gradual disbursement of information as readers move away from the fighting. The end may be a collection of fairly unrelated politics and artifacts that prove to be the most captivating of all.
It’s the details that grab readers’ attention here instead of the big picture. (thumbnail bios, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)