Very, very readable. Rather than focusing on military battles, this book focuses on what was going on civilian side. What did Whites and Blacks think of, during the course of the war? There are a lot, a lot of direct quotes from people (black and white) from all sides of the war.
People think The North wanted this, The South wanted that. As with any such generalization, its wrong. There were 4 slave holding states that stayed in the union. There were abolitionists and Unionists in the South. The southern 1% – the few families who had more than 20 slaves – found ways not to fight, while the 99% died by the thousands. There were Union Generals who returned slaves to their owners. What a mixup!
The South went to war over sl- ahem, over State Rights. That made things really difficult when Pres Jeff Davis wanted to do things like issue taxes – the rich did not accept his right to tax them. The draft? But they are free men! Conscripting a significant number of slaves to work on the front? The masters couldn’t spare them. The army wants food at significantly reduced prices? Plantation owners would rather burn the crop in the field than submit to such tactics.
It seems that plantation owners took personal liberty so far that they completely failed to protect their personal liberties.
Meanwhile, up North, people including Abe Lincoln started off fighting to preserve the Union. Negroes were not allowed to fight, since ‘everyone knows’ they were unfit for duty. Then there was a manpower shortage, and some black regiments were started. Abe Lincoln wanted to give them equal pay, but that proposal was fought down. Some months later, white soldiers were writing home that the colored regiments were immensely brave. Southern soldiers were incensed by armed Negroes, and gave no quarter when they fought.