This was one of the best books I've read concerning the politics of the Civil War. Looking through the lenses of past Presidents Van Buren, Tyler, Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan the reader gets a sense of how these men helped or hindered the North or South in the Civil War. For example, Tyler went home to Virginia and supported the Confederacy until his death. Generally, the former Presidents wanted to see some sort of solution that would allow the south to maintain slavery and be a part of the United States. Buchanan was urging this type of solution right up to Lee's surrender at Appomatax. The book is extremely well researched and included the outcomes of battles but is not a book on tactics or strategy. It's a book about politics. Generals such as McClellan would not pursue when his army won and would not fight if he thought he was outnumbered, which was most of the time. Meade had issues following up. These tactics caused Lincoln all sorts of grief and led to a rotating door of generals for the North. While Grant was not retreating he was losing thousands of soldiers in his battles Lincoln was lamenting the costs of what he hoped would be a victory. I truly enjoyed learning about the Civil War from this perspective.