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Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow returns with a sweeping and dramatic portrait of one of our most compelling generals and presidents, Ulysses S. Grant.
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.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.20(d)|
About the Author
Date of Birth:March 3, 1949
Place of Birth:Brooklyn, NY
Education:Yale University; Cambridge University
Table of Contents
Author's Note 13
Introduction: The Sphinx Talks 15
Part 1 A Life of Struggle
1 Country Bumpkin 37
2 The Darling Young Lieutenant 58
3 Rough and Ready 82
4 The Son of Temperance 110
5 Payday 139
Part 2 A Life of War
6 The Store Clerk 179
7 The Quiet Man 205
8 Twin Forts 231
9 Dynamo 261
10 A Glittering Lie 286
11 Exodus 320
12 Man of Iron 348
13 Citadel 382
14 Deliverance 410
15 Above the Clouds 440
16 Idol of the Hour 470
17 Ulysses the Silent 496
18 Raging Storm 521
19 Heavens Hung in Black 550
20 Caldron of Hell 578
21 Chew & Choke 605
22 Her Satanic Majesty 635
23 Dirty Boots 671
24 A Singular, Indescribable Vessel 713
Part 3 A Life of Peace
25 Soldierly Good Faith 747
26 Swing Around the Circle 775
27 Volcanic Passion 809
28 Trading Places 835
29 Spoils of War 862
30 We Are All Americans 888
31 Sin Against Humanity 911
32 The Darkest Blot 934
33 A Dance of Blood 963
34 Vindication 984
35 A Butchery of Citizens 1021
36 The Bravest Battle 1045
37 Let No Guilty Man Escape 1071
38 Saddest of the Falls 1100
39 Redeemers 1125
Part 4 A Life of Reflection
40 The Wanderer 1155
41 Master Spirit 1193
42 A Miserable Dirty Reptile 1216
43 Taps 1241
Illustration Credits 1475
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A wonderful read! Excellent sentence structure and eminently readable. Love his diction and as a semanticist, his nuanced sentences are not too pedantic, but perfectly syntaxed. Read the 1,000 pages in five days. Thanks, Mr. Chernow. You spent six years researching and writing, I only had to spend five days reading.
Written in the style only Ron Chernow could compose this is a meticulously researched book covering a wealth of material encompassing the life of one of the most prolific and underrated presidents it is an easy read with great continuity and gripping facts including details that shed light on a polarizing figure in American history...well done Mr. Chernow
Certainly one of the best books of the year .
A great over all view of Grant. A very interesting read providing a comprehensive history of the man.
This book is a spiritual antidote to the lying and sceming of present day politicians and a good read.
As a septuagenarian I am struck by how little I know about American history. I am thankful for having come across this exceptional account of U. S. Grant and the role he played in our national history. I am equally struck by how little recognition has been given him over time. Hopefully his image and contributions will be rightfully resurrected.
Sometimes repetitive but a good read with a nice phase in Reconstruction which is often ignored
This is a GREAT book about a GREAT man. I listened to the audio book twice. When I finished it, I started it over again immediately. Unlike a previous reviewer, I really liked the reader. He gave a voice to Grant that brought him alive for me. I now want to read everything I can about Grant, and have spent way too many hours looking at Grant photos on the internet. I listened to the Ron White book American Ulysses. As a listening experience, it's not in the same cosmos as Chernow's book. Plus, White does not deal with Grant's drinking because the author believed he did not drink. Oh well. Considering Grant was a horse whisperer, sadly there are only three photos of him with a horse, one of him standing with Cincinnati, one of him on Cincinnati, and the quite comical one of him (he looks like a little boy) and his friend Lieutenant Alexander Hays at Camp Salubrity. In this photo, the two lieutenants are each standing next to a horse. Anyway, this book has opened up a whole new avenue of obsession for me!
Chernow has certainly written one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. It is highly readable and hew has certainly plumbed every likely source of insights into Grant’s personality & character. He confronts all the questions head-on, especially Grant’s alcoholic tendencies. I’ve only read 200 of this nearly thousand page book. It’s flows beautifully and is so easy to follow. He accomplishes this while remaining very informative, the goal of any biography. I only have two carps, one minor and one major. Sometimes he does fall into the writer’s trap of confusing pronoun antecedents but usually you can figure out the person referred to. That’s the minor carp. The major carp is the lack of maps. In the 200 pages I’ve read there has not been a single one to give you a geographical feel for obstacles and achievements. I thumbed through the rest of the book and have not found one. How can you appreciate military events without maps? chernow did himself a disservice with this omission. Contrast that Brian Kilmeade’s “Andrew Jackson & the Miracle of New Orleans.” It is copiously illustrated with maps that give you that necessary feel. Other than that, purchase & read this book for one of the most incsive biographies of any American. . I tried to give it 4&1/2 stars for that reason but couldn't do the 1/2.
Tremendous development of character and relationships, while delivering this magnificent history of a truly great man. Bravo!
Ulysses S. Grant is not a man I will soon forget. I admittedly knew a minimum amount about Grant before starting this book, but the more I read the more fascinated I became. He was a complex man, who had struggles, but sacrificed and brought a great deal to our country. I loved reading about all sides of this man and his life. The book was never dry or boring. There was a lot of detail, but it was presented in insightful and interesting ways. I give this book 5 full stars and recommend it to any person interested in history, or Grant specifically.
Well worth the read. A bit slow at times and too much time spent on how he worked to control his drinking. Go out and buy it.
I did not like the narrator of the audiobook.