I purchased this series years ago from The Teaching Company, thus the reason I can write a review on the day it's released on Audible. It's great to have this on Audible, and is a tremendous value.
Professor Gallagher is a world class instructor and this series works very well in the audio format. Since this is a series of 30-min lectures it's very easy to follow and if you want a refresher it's easy to go back and find whatever you're looking for.
I've read probably a hundred Civil War books at this point, and this lecture was the first in-depth I listened to that got me started and interested in the subject. It's a great book for all levels, but certainly the less you know the more you're learn -- this is a great introduction and even if you already know most everything this is an excellent way to refresh your knowledge.
Highly recommended, 5 stars.
So right off the bat let me say this is an excellent general overview of the Civil War - but not of Reconstruction. The book is around 20 hours long and he don't even get to Reconstruction until the last hour and a half. So know that coming in and you shouldn't be disappointed.
OK now for the review.
At this point I've read and listened to probably more than a hundred of Civil War books, this would rank near the top of them. This would be a great book for someone that doesn't know much about the Civil War as it is not a military history of the war and it's not in great depth, instead it more or less is a narrative that provides atmosphere and gives you all the fundamentals you need to understand what happened and why. At the same time I still found it interesting as a refresher since it's easy to listen to and well structured. There wasn't a lot of new material in there but the other does a good job of keeping the story moving and not going back over the same material you've read in other history books 100 times. He does bring new narratives to the story, personal accounts and such that I have not heard before and that helps great for the Civil War buff.
Another review said that the book has a southern bias and that's ridiculous, I've read enough Civil War material to know what is biased and what isn't, this clearly falls into the non-biased category.
The reader does an excellent job as well.
So in closing I'd highly recommend this book to people who want to begin to have an understanding of the Civil War and want it in an interesting and easy to read (listen to) format. If you're just starting out this book should be interesting to you and hopefully will work as a bridge to get you into more in-depth reading (listening) later.
Also I very much believe anyone already interested in the Civil War that might want a refresher or just wants a good narrative of the war will enjoy this as well.
I do NOT recommend this for anyone that want's an understanding of Reconstruction as it's breezed through way to quickly to be of any use. If you can get past that this is very very much a 5-star book.
When this book sticks to the subject matter it moves quickly, it's very interesting and it provides a lot of new information even to Civil War buffs. Unfortunately the author appears to the need to "balance" the poor northern treatment of Rose and her daughter by throwing in chapters about slavery. In case you didn't know slavery was bad. The chapters on slavery were completely unrelated to the story, as in it was COMPLETELY unrelated -- as in if you skipped them it doesn't change the story at all as you miss nothing as it's unrelated. That's really a shame since it brings the book to crawl as it eats up hours and provides nothing new you haven't read already. If you haven't read much on slavery or if you think it was good then perhaps it's a different story and you'll find these parts more interesting.
Overall the book is interesting and I do recommend it regardless of your familiarly with the Civil War. Because of the nature of the subject matter it comes off as pro-Southern, which is why I believe they tacked on the slavery chapters, that part is a shame since it just slows the book down tremendously. When I saw the book is pro-Southern I don't the author is, I just think because of the point of the view the story is told from you end up sympathizing with Rose, and even if not you certainly do for her daughter.
The narration is pretty good, I've certainly heard better but I've heard much worse.
Checkout this book if the summary sounds at all interesting to you, but in an effort to keep the story moving don't feel guiltily about skipping the slavery sections if you're already familiar with the subject matter. I listened to it for you, I didn't skip anything, I expected that it would somehow be tied back into the story and it wasn't. I listened so you could skip it.