Back in 2002, William H. Roberts did a really interesting thing with the annals of Union ironclad construction - he researched, then wrote the history of the U.S. ironclads as procurement projects. Gone was the gripping "race" against the Virginia's menace as plot device and storyline. Instead, his Civil War Ironclads delivered insights about weapons systems procurement then and now.
The only review I've seen that gives a taste of Roberts' purpose is this one by Scott Stabler.
It's a little dry, but well worth a look.