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Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is 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 come close to capturing him, as Chernow sows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.
Before the Civil War, Grant was flailing. His business ventures had ended dismally, and, despite distinguished service in the Mexican War, he ended up resigning from the army in disgrace amid recurring accusations of drunkenness. But in war, Grant began to realize his remarkable potential, soaring through the ranks of the Union army, prevailing at the battle of Shiloh and in the Vicksburg campaign, and ultimately defeating the legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Along the way Grant endeared himself to President Lincoln and became his most trusted general and the strategic genius of the war effort. Grant's military fame translated into a two-term presidency but one plagued by corruption scandals involving his closest staff members.
More important, he sought freedom and justice for black Americans, working to crush the Ku Klux Klan and earning the admiration of Frederick Douglass, who called him "the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of my race". After his presidency he was again brought low by a dashing young swindler on Wall Street, only to resuscitate his image by working with Mark Twain to publish his memoirs, which are recognized as a masterpiece of the genre.
With lucidity, breadth, and meticulousness, Chernow finds the threads that bind these disparate stories together, shedding new light on the man whom Walt Whitman described as "nothing heroic...and yet the greatest hero". Chernow's probing portrait of Grant's lifelong struggle with alcoholism transforms our understanding of the man at the deepest level. This is America's greatest biographer bringing movingly to life one of our finest but most underappreciated presidents. The definitive biography, Grant, is a grand synthesis of painstaking research and literary brilliance that makes sense of all sides of Grant's life, explaining how this simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Amazon Customer on 10-25-17
Excellent Book (BUT WHERE IS THE PDF FILES)????
I really enjoyed this book. The only thing that would make this book better would be the PDF file like some of the other books. Second book, I have bought without a PDF lately. Please give us readers PDF files to see maps, and other important information such as dates and names spelling etc.
162 of 166 people found this review helpful
By Amanda 📚 on 10-18-17
Ron Chernow should be writing for our schools
I want to first give the Narrator, Mark Bramhall, much credit. He did such a great job creating voices for all characters - it made it super easy for me to follow along (at work...shh...don't tell anyone...) & very enjoyable (I am not a major 'books on tape' fan - I like to hold an actual book). I found myself searching all books he narrated and purchasing them.
Ron Chernow did such an amazing detailed job in the life of Grant - that I feel like I know him. There are so many small accounts noted in his life, that it makes you like him & respect him even more. I appreciate the first 6 hours into it talking more in depth of his life, his family, his in-laws, how he felt, etc. I wanted to 'know' Grant more than the Civil War General and President.
During my recent trip to DC, Virginia & Gettysburg = I was told many personal stories (and seen the artifacts) by the staff at each destination of many persons in regards to this war. My mouth was open most of this trip due to all the details I was learning about everything and everyone - I was shocked. I was obsessed with the Civil War, WWII and Vietnam in school and thought I knew much....Nope! This book is the sort of thing I believe we all need to learn in History classes. It brings that time era, the circumstances, and one man's journey thru this all to life.
I truly hope he writes a book on Robert E. Lee next
46 of 47 people found this review helpful