Does anyone have recommendations for a good book to read about the Civil War? Here are my criteria:
It should be written by a serious historian. (But it doesn't have to be academic -- if you think The Civil War for Dummies or The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Civil War are good, feel free to recommend them.)
It should be short, say under 500 pages. (This rules out, say, Shelby Foote's three-volume work or McPherson's 950-page Battle Cry of Freedom, no matter how good they are.)
It should be a general history, not focused on one particular issue like Goodwin's Team of Rivals, a naval history, a photographic history, a history of the Civil War as it relates to Texas, etc.
It should tell a historical narrative, as opposed to, say, a reference guide, 101 trivia facts about the Civil War, or the like.
It should be about the U.S. Civil War!
It should cover both the political and military history of the Civil War.
It should have good coverage of the runup to the Civil War, and preferably should also have good coverage of Reconstruction.
It should be non-fiction, not a novel or alternative ("what-if") history.
Well, I think that covers it. If you recommend a book, please note whether you think it has a slant of some sort (e.g., pro-Southern, pro-Lincoln, whatever). (Bias is no problem, and I don't even mean the word in a negative sense, but it's good to know!) If there's something good that doesn't fit all the categories (e.g., "great book but no coverage of Reconstruction," or "the best book hands down but unfortunately 600 pages long," or "actually about the Spanish Civil War"), feel free to note that too. Thanks!