Those first embarking on the study of the Civil War may want to start with this compact presentation of its history. Unlike Shelby Foote or Bruce Catton’s works, Grady McWhiney’s Concise Account does not cover everything about the Civil War, instead touching upon the high points.
Intended to reach a general readership, this book avoids being overly academic in its presentation. McWhiney covers all theatres of the war and several of its aspects – social, political, international, race and gender - not only the military, making this a well-rounded summarized presentation of the American Civil War.
The first quarter of the book covers pre-Civil War America and the causes of the war. The remainder of the book is about the war itself. A number of black and white maps of the country at various stages of the pre-Civil War period and during the war. The battlefield maps are similar to those encountered in the Civil War Campaign and Commanders series, also published by the McWhiney Foundation Press. Illustrations, none of which are included, could have added visual understanding. There is no bibliography, but there is an index.
An influential Civil War scholar, McWhiney taught graduate courses at colleges in Alabama, Michigan, and Texas. He founded the McWhiney Research Foundation in 1996 at McMurry University in Abilene, where he died in April 2006. McWhiney also authored Confederate Crackers and Cavaliers (2003), Battle in the Wilderness (1995), Braxton Bragg and Confederate Defeat (first published in 1967 and then again in 1991), Cracker Culture (1989), Jefferson Davis: the Unforgiven (1989), Attack and Die (1984), Southerners as Americans (1966), Grant, Lee, Lincoln and the Radicals (1964), and Reconstruction and Freedmen (1963). He co-authored and edited many other books and authored several articles in his lifetime.