Grant /

Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. He is often caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don't capture the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with diz...

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Main Author: Chernow, Ron, (Author)
Format: Book
Published: New York : Penguin Press, 2017.
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Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* For most of the past century, the consensus among historians was that Grant was an effective but unimaginative general and a mediocre president whose administrations were soiled by financial corruption. In recent decades, there have been several more positive reappraisals of Grant as a soldier and politician. Chernow, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, most notably, of Alexander Hamilton, presents a massive and beautifully written portrait that may well be a culmination of that revisionist trend. Chernow views Grant as a modest man who, unlike any of his West Point contemporaries, sought neither fame nor glory. Instead, he regarded the winning of the Civil War as a test of duty, and he pursued that with dogged determination. Perhaps he lacked the flair of some other commanders, but he was a master in coordination of troop movements and supply of ordinance and other essential materials. Like his friend William Sherman, Grant knew the war had to be waged against the farms and factories that supplied Confederate soldiers. Chernow doesn't gloss over Grant's struggle with alcoholism or his tendency to trust shady operators. However, his willingness to protect the gains of freemen and to fight the KKK was an example of the moral courage he consistently displayed. This is a superb tribute to Grant, whose greatness is earning increased appreciation.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Acclaimed biographer Chernow, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Washington: A Life, entertains in this informative whopper as he upends the long-held view of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) as a lumbering general and incompetent president. An unhappy Army officer who resigned his commission in 1854, Grant was reduced to clerking in his father's dry-goods store when President Lincoln called for volunteers in 1861. Bolstered by his West Point background and enthusiastic support from his congressman, Grant reentered service and quickly rose to brigadier general. In February 1862, he won the first great Union victory by capturing forts Henry and Donelson. Thrilled by Grant's victories at Vicksburg and Chattanooga, Lincoln made him commanding general of the Union Army. Chernow contrasts Grant's awareness of the tasks required to win the war with opponent Robert E. Lee's comparative shortsightedness. Discussing Grant's presidency (1869-1877), Chernow discloses the admiration he received from contemporary black leaders for his efforts during Reconstruction, even though it collapsed due to continued white intransigence. Similarly, pressure from whites undermined Grant's well-intentioned Indian policy, leading to the Sioux Wars. Throughout his life, Grant was bad with money and a constant target of hucksters. Chernow spares few details, but Grant was a complex, mostly admirable figure, and this may become the definitive biography for the foreseeable future. Agent: Melanie Jackson, Melanie Jackson Agency. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Review by Library Journal Review

Chernow continues his success from his best seller Alexander Hamilton, with this comprehensive account of Civil War general and U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant (1822-85). Some view Grant as a brilliant military tactician and influential if flawed politician; others paint him as corrupt and ineffectual. Chernow, utilizing thousands of letters, military records, and diary entries, creates a more complete portrait of the surprisingly timid Grant, who hated the sight of blood and understood that the thousands of men dying every day under his command were the only way to end what was, in his mind, a thankless and brutal war. Chernow's Grant is humble, quiet, and playful-moody in peacetime but a genius in wartime. As other historians have painted Grant as a raging drunkard, Chernow sheds light on Grant's lifetime battle with alcohol as a disease, rather than a vice. Admittedly, Grant's history as president is much less interesting than his military duty, and much of this volume is devoted to the Civil War. Grant was an inexperienced politician, and history has allowed the corruption that flourished during his time as president to overshadow the landmark civil rights legislation passed during his tenure. VERDICT Don't expect a Grant musical, but this important work of American biography belongs on every library shelf. [See Prepub Alert, 4/17/17.]-Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn P.L. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A massive biography of the Civil War general and president, who "was the single most important figure behind Reconstruction."Most Americans know the traditional story of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885): a modest but brutal general who pummeled Robert E. Lee into submission and then became a bad president. Historians changed their minds a generation ago, and acclaimed historian Chernow (Washington: A Life, 2010, etc.), winner of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, goes along in this doorstop of a biography, which is admiring, intensely detailed, and rarely dull. A middling West Point graduate, Grant performed well during the Mexican War but resigned his commission, enduring seven years of failure before getting lucky. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was the only West Point graduate in the area, so local leaders gave him a command. Unlike other Union commanders, he was aggressive and unfazed by setbacks. His brilliant campaign at Vicksburg made him a national hero. Taking command of the Army of the Potomac, he forced Lee's surrender, although it took a year. Easily elected in 1868, he was the only president who truly wanted Reconstruction to work. Despite achievements such as suppressing the Ku Klux Klan, he was fighting a losing battle. Historian Richard N. Current wrote, "by backing Radical Reconstruction as best he could, he made a greater effort to secure the constitutional rights of blacks than did any other President between Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson." Recounting the dreary scandals that soiled his administration, Chernow emphasizes that Grant was disastrously lacking in cynicism. Loyal to friends and susceptible to shady characters, he was an easy mark, and he was fleeced regularly throughout his life. In this sympathetic biography, the author continues the revival of Grant's reputation. At nearly 1,000 pages, Chernow delivers a deeply researched, everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know biography, but few readers will regret the experience. For those seeking a shorter treatment, turn to Josiah Bunting's Ulysses S. Grant (2004). Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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