Fast-paced study of a pivotal Civil War campaign, for buffs and casual readers alike. Experienced Civil War historian Sword (Embrace An Angry Wind, 1992, etc.) vividly depicts the siege of Chattanooga, three separate engagements all fought in the vicinity of that Tennessee city during November 1863. Mercurial Confederate general Braxton Bragg had defeated Federal forces commanded by the driven, and possibly mentally unstable, William Rosecrans at Chickamauga in October. Bragg then encamped before Chattanooga, extending his lines from Lookout Mountain and along Missionary Ridge. Rosecrans, humiliated, was replaced as commander of the decimated Army of the Cumberland by George Thomas, with Ulysses S. Grant installed as supreme head of the forces in the theater. An overall campaign to retake Chattanooga was then planned and executed. It involved some of the Union's most prominent generals (Grant, Sherman, Hooker) and a famous engagement at Lookout Mountain, during which Hooker's troops dislodged Confederate soldiers from that vantage point in the ``battle above the clouds.'' The campaign ended with a decisive Union victory when Thomas's army, exceeding its authority, rushed the Confederate center at Missionary Ridge and routed the rebels. The author offers lively portraits of the personalities involved- -from ``Old Rosy'' Rosecrans to ``Fighting Joe'' Hooker--and does not neglect the ordinary soldier. He shows the mistakes, ironies, and confusions that tipped the scales in a campaign that easily could have gone the other way. Painting a clear picture of the war's importance in the West (often ignored by other Civil War historians), he makes a convincing case for his argument that the battle was more crucial than such highly publicized battles as Gettysburg. Effective and highly readable, a fine addition to the ever- growing body of work about America's bloodiest war.