In the summer of 1862, Jeremy, a Southern boy, becomes aware that a war is going on. But what kind of war was it? He begins his investigation by asking the people around him. His father explains to him that it is a war in which the South is fighting for its economic independence. His granddaddy tells him it is a war that could break up the United States. A slave tells him the war is being fought for the dignity and eventual freedom of an enslaved race. However, Jeremy's best friend (and Confederate soldier) Jonathan tells him the war is a revolt against Northern oppression of the Southern way of life. The different answers Jeremy receives paint a picture of the varying conceptions that people from the North and the South had--and still have today--of the roots and causes of the Civil War.