The subject of the book may sound rather obscure, but many people will know the Fifty-fourth as the black regiment depicted in the movie "Glory", which a number of schools show as part of the Civil War unit. Burchard describes the life and times of Shaw, with special emphasis on his first role as the commander of the Fifty-fourth. The son of wealthy abolitionists, Shaw grew up in Boston, went to Harvard, traveled in Europe, and when war broke out, joined the Union army, and eventually was charged with training and leading Massachusetts' first black regiment. Although the book focuses mainly on Shaw, it includes a history of the regiment after his death and assesses the impact of black soldiers on the course of the war. Black-and-white photographs, mainly portraits, appear occasionally throughout the text. A somewhat dry but informative biography that tells as much about the times as about the man and his regiment.