Don't start in the middle of the series; the back-story of the characters will be needed. Civil War books are full of details on the great campaigns in the East and Shiloh usually gets a paragraph or two, just the facts ma'am, with Forts Henry and Donelson being treated as isolated anecdotes worth maybe a sentence or two. This book goes a good way towards resetting that balance, with a good proportion of this book devoted to that campaign and bringing it to life, and, since it leaves the battle at half-time, it will get some more space in the next volume too. The editing is much cleaner in this volume, too. Bravo.
Having just finished the three book set, I can't wait for the next iteration! Bob does a wonderful job of blending the personalities of the fictional characters with the historical figures of the period, of whom Sam Grant was the most intriguing. The language and flow of the intertwined stories remind me of "Lonesome Dove" (which Bob would probably consider flattering).
Bob Mayer brings alive history in an interesting, highly relevant way that the reader is there in the lines beside the main characters. Some writers are unable to escape formulas of writing, especially describing characters, that lend the reader to believe this is a comic book account. When Mayer writes, the reader believes his authenticity and realism. Mayer is on a par with Nelson DeMille. Both are excellent.
I always like Bob's writing and after so much of his military fiction I was interested in seeing how he treated this topic. I really enjoyed the personalities he has given to Grant and Sherman as well as his added story characters. My only issue was that the next installment wasn't available yet.