Grant (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Jun 29, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 784 pages
27 Reviews
Ulysses S. Grant was the first four-star general in the history of the United States Army and the only president between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson to serve eight consecutive years in the White House. As general in chief, Grant revolutionized modern warfare. Rather than capture enemy territory or march on Southern cities, he concentrated on engaging and defeating the Confederate armies in the field, and he pursued that strategy relentlessly. As president, he brought stability to the country after years of war and upheaval. He tried to carry out the policies of Abraham Lincoln, the man he admired above all others, and to a considerable degree he succeeded. Yet today, Grant is remembered as a brilliant general but a failed president.
In this comprehensive biography, Jean Edward Smith reconciles these conflicting assessments of Grant's life. He argues convincingly that Grant is greatly underrated as a president. Following the turmoil of Andrew Johnson's administration, Grant guided the nation through the post- Civil War era, overseeing Reconstruction of the South and enforcing the freedoms of new African-American citizens. His presidential accomplishments were as considerable as his military victories, says Smith, for the same strength of character that made him successful on the battlefield also characterized his years in the White House.
Grant was the most unlikely of military heroes: a great soldier who disliked the army and longed for a civilian career. After graduating from West Point, he served with distinction in the Mexican War. Following the war he grew stale on frontier garrison postings, despaired for his absent wife and children, and began drinking heavily. He resigned from the army in 1854, failed at farming and other business endeavors, and was working as a clerk in the family leathergoods store when the Civil War began. Denied a place in the regular army, he was commissioned a colonel of volunteers and, as victory followed victory, moved steadily up the Union chain of command. Lincoln saw in Grant the general he had been looking for, and in the spring of 1864 the president brought him east to take command of all the Union armies.
Smith dispels the myth that Grant was a brutal general who willingly sacrificed his soldiers, pointing out that Grant's casualty ratio was consistently lower than Lee's. At the end of the war, Grant's generous terms to the Confederates at Appomattox foreshadowed his generosity to the South as president. But, as Smith notes, Grant also had his weaknesses. He was too trusting of his friends, some of whom schemed to profit through their association with him. Though Grant himself always acted honorably, his presidential administration was rocked by scandals.
"He was the steadfast center about and on which everything else turned," Philip Sheridan wrote, and others who served under Grant felt the same way. It was this aura of stability and integrity that allowed Grant as president to override a growing sectionalism and to navigate such national crises as the Panic of 1873 and the disputed Hayes-Tilden election of 1876.
At the end of his life, dying of cancer, Grant composed his memoirs, which are still regarded by historians as perhaps the finest military memoirs ever written. They sold phenomenally well, and Grant the failed businessman left his widow a fortune in royalties from sales of the book. His funeral procession through the streets of Manhattan closed the city, and behind his pallbearers, who included both Confederate and Union generals, marched thousands of veterans from both sides of the war.
  

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Review: Grant

User Review  - Joanne Otto - Goodreads

This well researched, insightfully written biography has introduced me to a man I now consider to have been among our nation's greatest presidents. Again and again I found myself thinking, "Wow! I had ... Read full review

Review: Grant

User Review  - Ross Cohen - Goodreads

Like "Eisenhower," Smith's "Grant" is a clear-eyed portrait of a general transformed into a peace-keeper by the office of the presidency. And while "Grant" isn't an apologia for its subject's maligned presidential legacy, it is a balanced reassessment. Read full review

Contents

Preface
14
ONE The Early Years
21
TWO Mexico
34
THREE Resignation
70
FOUR War
98
FIVE Unconditional Surrender
133
SIX Shiloh
167
SEVEN Vicksburg
206
THIRTEEN Reconstruction
408
FOURTEEN Let Us Have Peace
431
FIFTEEN Grant in the White House
458
SIXTEEN Diplomacy
491
SEVENTEEN Great White Father 316
516
EIGHTEEN Reconstruction Revisited
542
NINETEEN The Gilded Age
573
TWENTY Taps
606

EIGHT Chattanooga
258
NINE General in Chief
284
TEN The Wilderness
313
ELEVEN Grant and Lee
340
TVVELVE Appomattox
369
N ates
629
Bibliography
707
Acknowledgments
747
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Jean Edward Smith is the author of numerous works of history and biography, including John Marshall: Definer of a Nation and Lucius D. Clay: An American Life. He taught political science at the University of Toronto for more than thirty years and is currently the John Marshall Professor of Political Science at Marshall University. When not writing or lecturing, he raises Charolais cattle in Chickasaw County, Mississippi.

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