The first essay in this week’s selection pertains to one of our first class discussions of the school year. McPherson seeks to explain the lasting fascination in this country with the Civil War. Pay attention to his explanations, as they point to the significance of the war. The second essay focuses on what will be a chief underlying theme of the course when we cover the Civil War itself, and that is the question of whether and to what extent it was a total war. McPherson’s discussion of the definition and nature of total war will prove useful not only in studying the Civil War, but also for reviewing the first twentieth century topic from last year. Consider while you read if the Civil War ever became a total war, and why. The reasons for the development of a “hard” or “destructive” war, as different historians have termed it, are important.