There is virtually no end to the books that have been published on the Civil War.
This is a very large book,10 1/2 X 13 1/2 inches with 256 pages. When first seeing it, one might be tempted to write it off as just another glossy coffee table book. That would be a big mistake. This is one of 3 books in the Rebels & Yankees Series,by two who have great knowledge,involvement and experience andwho have done much consulting work on TV,Films,Museums and other historical efforts on the Civil War.
When I first thumbed through the book, I was immediately impressed by the artwork on the cover and drawings of men and officers in military dress. These are actually more than just drawings; they are full page works of supurb art and detail. The book is loaded with some of the best photographs taken during the war which are used to explain much that is glossed over in Civil War mooks ;that tend to concentrate on the battles. Then we are also given dozens of excellent photographic plates showing, as well as explaining,the uniforms,equipment,pistols and swords that were actually the ones used by the well known as well as those not so well known. These photographs were made from artifacts now held in the best museums in the country.
Not only is the artwork and photography outstanding; the text throughout extremely informative;but it also covers a lot that is not usually found in history books.
The book does a teriffic job of showing how in 1861,there were a relatively few militarily trained, organized or equipped men in the the country and how the great armies were put together in such a short time. The book deals mainly on how the officers were created and how and why some were successful as well as why those who were not,got into the positions they held. Personally,I've often wondered how come some of the great Generals were only in their twenties. After reading this book,I have a much better understanding. Another thing that often made me wonder was the variety of both weapons and uniforms;which is well explained. Another thing that intrigued me was the ever present image of the fancy swords carried by all the officers.The role of those is also explained.
There is still one thing that I still wonder about is the gold boxed epaulettes that appear in every photograph of officer's uniforms and equipment. In all the actual photogrphs as well as the portraits the epaullettes almost never appear.They seem to have been used on only 'dress" or very formal occassions. For instance the portraits of Grant and Sherman on page 172, or Lee on page 195 don't have them .That being said,they do appear once in a while as we see on page 10; or at the Cavalry School of Practice on page 220.
The book is of excellent construction with fine paper,printing,color rendition and binding. The hard cover even has a glossy surface identical to the dust jacket. It is hard to imagine anyone with an interest in the Civil War who would not be impressed with the effort that went into this book and the results achieve.