National Public Radio producer Trudeau (The Last Citadel, 1991; Bloody Roads South, 1989), completing a fine trilogy of works about the Civil War, recounts the turbulent collapse of the Confederacy in the months following Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. ""General readers are so taken with the simple drama of Appomattox,"" Trudeau writes in his preface, ""that many continue to believe that the Civil War ended with that incident."" Nothing could be farther from the truth, according to Trudeau: At the time of Lee's surrender, Confederate armies were still in the field in North Carolina, Alabama, and the trans-Mississippi, and it was far from obvious to the leaders of the North that the Confederacy would not continue to fight, even though the Richmond government had fled after the collapse of Lee's army. Trudeau reports events great and small in this three-month period in 1865 that transformed America: the final clashes and the surrender of the remaining Confederate armies, Lincoln's assassination, the capture of Jefferson Davis, the sinking of the steamboat Sultana in the Mississippi (heading north with over 1,500 former Union prisoners on board), and the tragic May 25 magazine explosion in Mobile, Alabama. The last actual battle between Union and Confederate forces was a skirmish at Palmito Ranch, Texas, on May 13; although it was not a resounding Union victory, the combatants themselves recognized that it represented the end of the war. Finally, Trudeau writes about the triumphant march of the Union armies in Washington on May 23, and the setting of the stage for Reconstruction. Superb and important -- another ground-breaking achievement in research and narration for Trudeau, covering a period not often examined in depth by Civil War historians.