I just finished this abridged illustraed version of James McPherson's history of the Civil War. Excellent one-volume work. McPherson addresses the history of America from the Mexican-American War on the political, social, and economic levels, giving the reader a great view about why the Civil War (or the War Between the States) started in the first place. While McPherson certainly talks a lot about slavery, he also talks about the Constitutional questions behind slavery and why the South's argument for secession had some legal standing. The second half of the book covers the war itself, explaining the continued political, social, and economic turmoil that the war caused, as well as the diplomatic and, of course, military facets of the War, in terms that anyone can understand. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a good history of the Civil War in one volume. At 760 pages, it's a long read, but certainly worthwhile. 5 out of 5 stars.