A narrative history of crucial Civil War operations in the West after Grant's great victories at Vicksburg and Fort Donaldson in July 1863. Woodworth (History/Texas Christian Univ.) traces how several bloody campaigns, marked by serious blunders on both sides, helped seal the Confederacy's fate. The Union Army of the Cumberland, under the command of General William S. Rosecrans, a neurotic, slow-moving perfectionist, were under orders to seize Chattanooga, a city important both because it served as a Confederate rail center (and the area around it was a breadbasket for Confederate forces) and because it guarded the path to Atlanta and the deep South. Opposing Rosecrans was Braxton Bragg, in charge of the Army of Tennessee. Bragg was particularly unpopular, and his command was frequently hamstrung by dissension. The opposing armies, maneuvering in an immense mountainous and forested area, were intermittently crippled by a lack of intelligence and by the difficulty of moving large numbers of troops over inhospitable terrain. Woodworth offers some convincing portraits of Rosecrans, Bragg, and their officers, and catches with great clarity the nature of the deadly chess game the armies were engaged in. Rosecrans's errors led to a Union defeat at Chickamauga, costly for both sides, after which both armies were reinforced. General Longstreet joined Bragg, bringing elements of the Army of Northern Virginia, and deepening the professional jealousy that kept threatening to dissipate Confederate successes. Union forces were bolstered by the arrival of the armies of Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan, all talented, aggressive fighters. Pressured by Lincoln, the Union forces finally captured Chattanooga, inflicting another humiliating setback on the Confederates and opening up the path for Sherman's march to Atlanta and the sea. A fine analysis of strategic and tactical operations, stressing the influence of commanders on the success, or failure, of their armies, while not losing sight of the grim experience of war for frontline troops.