I'm only about 1/3 through, but I can tell that this is an awesome piece of work. I'm surprised not to see more feedback here.
Tanner does an excellent job of presenting the Confederate deatils of the early valley campaign. He gives an excellent quick history of the valley as far as original colonization, American Revolution tie-ins, etc. He also paints a good picture of the strategic importance of the valley. So far reading, I'm surprised that more action did not take place within the 2 mountain ranges that make this "valley."
Tanner covers every level of the campaigns from simple private, to captains, to regimental colonels, to brigadier generals, all the way up to division commanders and of course General Jackson. Detailed troop movements are given, yet I did not find myself lost in details. Maps are excellent and numerous.
Also, very important, is reference to other Eastern developments which caused the ebb and flow in the Valley. You get the details as to why certain troops found themselves headed in or out of the valley, especially for the Union side.
The writing is very clear, concise, and at times very poetic. I wouldn't say Tanner is another Catton or Foote, but he comes pretty darn close. Much better than a typical dry account of campaigns you usually see out there.
I've been doing a lot of reading on ACW lately. I wasn't quite sure whether to read this because there seemed to be so many other more important works out there. But I'm glad I'm reading it as Tanner does an excellent job of briging this often forgot and vital campaign to life.
Remember it is Jackson's brilliance in the campaign which delays McCellan from striking Richmond by causing panic in Washington and delaying troop concentrations, and more importantly, it is his superiority in the Valley which allows him to break loose and help kick off the 7 Days (although he was MIA in helping).
Any serious ACW student should read this book.