The last year of the war, written as a sensitive and well-trained observer on either side would have recorded it. More narrowly military than Allen Nevins' works, more sympathetic to the South than Bruce Catton, this book can stand on its own without comparisons or acquaintance with the earlier two volumes by Foote, a novelist who has spent twenty years on the series. Foote's heavy use of primary sources represents no cut-and-paste job: he makes careful, even descriptions of battle details, troop deployments, and logistical problems while never abandoning the reader to a swamp of particulars. He has a sound appreciation of the military importance of the railroads and of shipbuilding technology, and an exceptional capacity to present broad, synchronic lines of strategy. The book begins with grave Federal defeats in Louisiana, and ends with Appomattox. Foote's grasp of the commanders, both their battle plans and their psychological states, gives an excellent feeling for the anguish of leadership. Like a good officer, Foote is concerned with the troops' morale; the fundamental issues of the war remain on the perimeter and there is no general summation at the end. As an addition to the standard works, this can be recommended above all for its gauge of subjective elements.