Pound for pound, penny for penny, dollar for dollar this simply is the best you can buy.
Extreemly well written and wrapped around a huge amount of pictures and artist drawings, this book seem to "come alive" ... It is packed full of information and side topics yet is never dull nor dry. I loved this book so much I bought one for my sister and found two more locally that I gave away to friends for great reading.
While I can see it would be very easy to read straight through, I found it was written so I could read a section and when I came back to pick up where I left off, I could easily remember what had happened what I last read.
There is an especially great way they create and "overhead view" characterization of several major battles...
This is a "Must" read for civil war buffs and as a teacher, I would want this as mandatory reading for all my history students.