In accordance with the in-class readings and excerpts, he attributes the cause of the Civil War mainly to slavery. Several chapters and essays revolve around Southern themes, such as the dissension within the Confederacy and South, the merits of a defensive strategy for the South, and the ambiguities when categorizing it.
McPherson touches upon several aspects and facets of this era. His essays describe different events at different times involving different factors. He focuses on historical figures, the North and South, and common arguments of the period, setting up an intricate and interesting framework for the reader. In the next essay, McPherson narrows his focus to significant figures in the war. He examines the personalities and leadership styles of Ulysses Grant and William Sherman, as well as their relationship. McPherson describes Grant as the epitome simplicity, using primary sources to deduce so. Grant’s tendency to write extremely lucid orders, his constant display of bravery in battle, and his ability to achieve clearly established goals for his troops, all became hall- marks of his leadership.