The story of the longest and most decisive military campaign of the Civil War in Vicksburg, Mississippi, which opened the Mississippi River, split the Confederacy, freed tens of thousands of slaves, and made Grant the most important general of the war.
... a superb account of both military leadership and soldierly warfare ... Mr. Miller has done a prodigious amount of research (the back matter runs to nearly 150 pages), and among the book’s many strengths are the quotations he provides from diaries and letters ... Books like Vicksburg are exactly what Thomas Hardy had in mind when he wrote that 'war makes rattling good history.'
Readers will marvel at how Grant—a washed-up dry-goods clerk at the beginning of the Civil War—acquires the power and skill that made him the mastermind at Vicksburg of the largest amphibious army-navy operation staged by the U.S. military until D-Day. In a narrative taut with drama, Miller recounts how this resolute Union crusader takes the war down the Mississippi, defying geographic and military obstacles, thereby seizing control of the Confederacy’s essential internal waterway in a triumph that mattered more than Gettysburg or Antietam, a political as well as military breakthrough, freeing plantation slaves in large southern regions. Readers will recognize defects in Grant, as they see his heedlessness with other men’s lives, his intemperance in his own. But Miller leaves no doubt: the nation Washington helped to found needed this dogged warrior to defend it. War history alive with probing intelligence and irresistible passion.
To be sure, Miller takes the general to task for some military miscalculations — and personal shortcomings ... Readers who fall short of Civil War Buff status may find Miller’s attention to tactical detail a literary forced march, although a profusion of maps helps to keep things clear. And Miller steps back often from his regiments-and-road-junctions approach to offer some interesting sidelights.