I read a lot of historical fiction back in the eighties, especially by Michener, but somehow missed John Jakes' North and South trilogy. I'm making up for it now. After just finishing North and South I started up Love and War, which picks up exactly where the first leaves off.
North and South is the story of two families, the Mains and the Hazards. The Mains are rice planters in South Carolina and the Hazards own an ironworks in Pennsylvania. Sons Orry Main and George Hazard meet at West Point in the 1840s and become best friends. The book then follows the Mains and the Hazards for the next twenty years or so, up to the beginning of the Civil War, as the two families struggle to remain friends despite the bitter regional differences.
Like most historical fiction there is a lot of factual history and genuine historical figures included. The novel is a good lesson on the events and thinking leading up to the War Between the States. It is definitely a good book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.