Grant: A Biography Epub ✓ Grant: A ePUB Ò

Grant: A Biography Epub ✓ Grant: A ePUB Ò



10 thoughts on “Grant: A Biography

  1. Dan Dan says:

    Grant A Biography garnered William S McFeely both the Pulitzer Prize and Francis Parkman Prizes in 1982 Here I go reading yet another biography on Ulysses S Grant, my seventh I have read at least one biography on each of the Presidents, but why so many on Grant There are a couple of reasons.First, the best biographers are drawn to the stories of the greatest of presidents like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Grant, TR, and FDR All of these men had compelling and complicated life stories th Grant A Biography garnered William S McFeely both the Pulitzer Prize and Francis Parkman Prizes in 1982 Here I go reading yet another biography on Ulysses S Grant, my seventh I have read at least one biography on each of the Presidents, but why so many on Grant There are a couple of reasons.First, the best biographers are drawn to the stories of the greatest of presidents like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Grant, TR, and FDR All of these men had compelling and complicated life stories that could fill volumes and there is an over abundance of material in the way of written correspondence The corollary to all this is that biographies about lesser figures don t sell many copies, even when they are well done.Secondly, Grant as the victorious general in a major war, has a biographical dimension that only Washington can lay claim to The Civil War was the cataclysmic event in American history and Grant was right in the midst of it and on the winning side And it was not just his mettle in battle that was unique The Union victory would not have come about if it were not for the advantages in moving troops and keeping supply lines open Grant, a former supply officer, was uniquely and supremely talented in this arena This skill set is discussed often in the book.I got an inkling that I might like this particular bio while reading the chapter covering the Mexican American War in which Grant, Lee, Sheridan and Sherman were young lieutenants Perhaps Grant was being revisionist when he wrote this in his memoirs years later but he viewed the Mexican American War as littlethan a land grab for slave states that could have been solved by buying the land Looking back to the 1840 s in a voice rare to Grant, he pronounced a moral judgment and discovered retribution The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican War Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war Civil War of modern times.Refreshing But this biography is not an exercise in hero worship and feltbalanced than the others I ve read For that reason along with the superb organization of the book I give it high marks McFeely acknowledges that Grant s accolades as the great general are all well deserved But there was somethingMcFeely digs into Grant s correspondence during the Civil War and unexpectedly finds a man who was politically savvy In 1861, having been out of the service for nearly eight years, Grant refused an offer to join the Volunteer army until he was made colonel A month later he was promoted to Brigadier General due to a lack of experienced West Point grads Of course he knew the importance of military experience and how it would affect promotions Grant also used his frequent silence both in person and correspondence to great effect often withholding updates to his military superiors until he had achieved his own aims Grant was an avid reader of newspapers and absorbed information of all kinds, including politics, like a sponge He didn t feel the need to speak until he was sure of the right decision A great quality in a general but perhaps not a president In short his superiors underestimated him to their own detriment even as Grant did end runs around them And most fortunately for Grant, Lincoln was a believer in Grant Although popular as a president, Grant stumbled his way through reconstruction, played a regrettable role in the Indian Wars, fell victim to the ills of patronage that embarrassed his administration, and despite his patriotism and honesty was acutely susceptible to financial speculation.McFeely posits that Grant s bad decisions as president may have had less to do with incompetence The post Civil War era had a disproportionate percentage of scheming and corrupt individuals Grant simply didn t have the style of leadership in that political system to overcome it He carefully cultivated his image as a hero and since he was generally aware of corrupt forces he tried to distance himself.After leaving office there are a few chapters near the end of the book that followed the Grants on their nearly two year trip around the world where they were hosted by dignitaries And Grant was very popular the world over Interestingly Grant was planning a return to politics for a non consecutive third term The timing of his return he and Julia returned from their world tour early and the fanfare from the press eventually dried to a trickle prior to the nominating convention and Grant s reluctance to promote himself in person at the convention cost him a third term in office He would have won the general election had he pressed it He brooded for a while and was concerned about his lack of money When Grant was diagnosed with throat cancer he worked at a fever pitch to finish his autobiography Samuel Clemens encouraged him and helped him publish, and the autobiography became a bestseller and Julia at long last became financially secure Grant died just days after completing the autobiography 5 stars Highly recommended Although not a short book at five hundred pages, there is an economy to McFeely s prose and reliance on well placed quotes that kept the story moving along Here are my favorite biographies or partial biographies on Grant In order they are 1 A Stillness at Appomattox 1953 by Bruce Catton2 Grant Goes South 1861 1863 by Bruce Catton 1960 3 Grant A Biography by William S McFeeley 1981 4 Grant by Ron Chernow 2017 5 Grant Takes Command 1863 1865 by Bruce Catton 1969 6 Grant by Jean Edward Smith 2001 7 Personal Memoirs by Ulysses S Grant 1885


  2. Eric Eric says:

    Not a float June was a busy monthI laughed and nodded when McFeely cited, as evidence Ulysses Grant felt complete only in battle , the fact that Grant finished the Mexican War with two big promotions and a sterling combat record despite never having been assigned combat duties He was his regiment s quartermaster, the supply guy in the rear of the column, back with the mules But dude could not stay out of a fight During the final assault on Mexico City, future adversary Robert E Lee and t Not a float June was a busy monthI laughed and nodded when McFeely cited, as evidence Ulysses Grant felt complete only in battle , the fact that Grant finished the Mexican War with two big promotions and a sterling combat record despite never having been assigned combat duties He was his regiment s quartermaster, the supply guy in the rear of the column, back with the mules But dude could not stay out of a fight During the final assault on Mexico City, future adversary Robert E Lee and the spearhead of US troops were pinned down under fire before San Cosme gate Earlier, during preparations for the assault, Grant had, on his own hunch, reconnoitered a church whose belfry looked to him as if it could command the back of the San Cosme defenses Now he rounded up some volunteers, unpacked a portable mountain howitzer, darted and dodged over the intervening terrain, parlayed with the padre in a politely intimidating Spanish, mounted the belfry, reassembled the gun, and began lobbing shells that scattered the Mexican troops I once saw, but cannot locate for a link, the ad for Old Crow Bourbon that celebrated this feat the image used was Grant in Mexico by Leutze, the painter of Washington Crossing the Delaware In a 1950s print campaign, the distillers of Old Crow advertized the Famous Americans Henry Clay, Mark Twain who had once relished or praised the unrecoverable ancestor of their product It seems they were eager to enroll Grant in the pantheon, or at least associate their brand name with the mythical fighting whiskey of Lincoln s famous and possibly apocryphal quip Warned by the paper pushers that Grant Drinks, the president said he wouldn t insist on proof of the allegation beyond the name of Grant s favored brand so that he could send barrels of it to his other generals I love that so much We know that Lincoln did say, I can t spare this man he fights I had heard that McFeely s book, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was flawed by the author s dislike of his subject I found disappointment instead of dislike and besides, the object of a biographer of the underrated and caricatured Grant, McFeely writes in the preface, is not to make the reader like Grant, but to take Grant seriously If you want to know why Grant is important, read this book McFeely will not tell you why Grant was a great commander or how he won his campaigns Grant will tell you that, in his modest and frightful Zen way , but he will introduce you to one of the defining figures of the nineteenth century, of the bourgeois ideology in all its nation building grandeur and dollar worshipping grotesquerie This book made me think that Grant is an opaque figure is opaque to us, and was to those who dismissed him during his interwar ennui because his importance cannot be comprehended in a quick glance And a quick glance is all we re prepared to give historical figures just as a quick glance was all the people of St Louis were prepared to give the sullen sphinx who sold cordwood on the street corner, draped in a faded blue army overcoat Ulysses and Julia Grant emerge from this book na ve and obscure people, rootless and rather alienated Mayakovsky s line about America s never quite secure lower middle class mass is apt Julia s father was one of those unprepossessing Southern farmers who because he owned a handful of slaves demanded to be addressed with that undiscriminating regional honorific, the Colonel Twain is acidic on this affectation Ulysses brilliant campaigns in Mississippi and Tennessee, and his conclusion of the Civil War in the political theater of Virginia his willingness to face what Lincoln called the arithmetic of the North s numerical superiority, the relative replaceability of the Army of the Potomac let s fight nonstop, for a month, and when both armies are broken, we ll just get a new one the other guy, we know, won t be able to get a new one, a plan which will go hand in hand with Sherman s idea to march through the Confederacy s economic heartland and burn it down elevated the Grants to the White House, to the heights of celebrity and power The society of which Grant was idol and ruler was one in profound confusion Grant s friend Mark Twain he roasted the general at one of those frenzied veterans banquets that for me capture the triumphant but traumatized Gilded Age North, feasts supplied with orgiastic amounts of whiskey and brandy, oysters and steaks, with drunken toasts and old camp songs shouted far into the night said that where Americans had formerly desired money, after the war they fell down and worshiped it and worshiped it no matter how it was acquired I had tried to package, into a pithy or at least readably convoluted sentence sorry about that shit above , synonymous testimonies of the postwar coarsening of American public morals but why compete with Lionel Trilling s essay on Twain And the war that brought an end to the rich Mississippi days also marked a change in the quality of life in America which, to many men, consisted of a deterioration of American moral values It is of course a human habit to look back on the past and find in it a better andinnocent time than the present Yet in this instance there seems to be an objective basis for the judgment We cannot disregard the testimony of men so diverse as Henry Adams, Walt Whitman, William Dean Howells, and Mark Twain himself, to mention but a few of the men who were in agreement on this point All spoke of something that had gone out of American life after the war, some simplicity, some innocence, some peace None of them was under any illusion about the amount of ordinary human wickedness that existed in the old days, and Mark Twain certainly was not The difference was in the public attitude, in the things that were now accepted and made respectable in the national ideal It was, they all felt, connected with new emotions about money.I said McFeely seems disappointed by Grant, an intelligent and sensitive man who because of a dangerous na vete and circumambient cultural poverty, deferred to oligarchs and market manipulators in the monetary policy of his administration, and trusted them in the management of his post presidential fortune, and even in the use of his name, in the Ponzi scheme which, for a while, was able to masquerade as a respectable Wall Street brokerage firm, Grant Ward McFeely affects a bewilderment that Grant, who had been a poor man, an economic victim, could defer so eagerly to the interests of the wealthy but he knows Grant wanted to join them. Weeks after Grant found out he was broke, he was diagnosed with throat cancer and wrote his Personal Memoirs while dying a horrible death slow starvation as tumors expanded and blocked his esophagus and in full view of a media circus Grant was destitute and on display as an object of national pity but this very degree of humiliation laid the base for his last and greatest victory He would treat his countrymen to another performance of heroism Penning famously unmistakable battlefield directives under shell fire is good practice for writing a lucid deathbed book a book that started as a patriotic pity bestseller widowed Julia was well provided for by royalties but never went out of print, and has survived to classic status Motherfucker could write People who dismiss Grant as a drunken nonentity evade the fact that his book has long outlasted the generation taught to revere it I didn t quite follow McFeely on the twists of Grant s monetary policy, but his naivet is apparent enough, and totally normal for Americans of that day and to a great extent, of ours the unquestioning belief in progress, without much idea of what progress read convenience means or what it can destroy the smug confidence that because republics read democracies are few and embattled, they are less rapacious than monarchies read dictatorships , and are virtuous underdogs the denial of class barriers enabled by the belief that because financiers and industrial robber barons do not constitute a hereditary aristocracy, then any working man with enough gumption can rise and join them and finally, the outright worship of money, or at least the assumption that the amassment of riches signals virtuousness and moral strength, an assumption which I suppose is as the same as worship McFeely calls Grant the enshrined hero of a noble cause and the wayward antihero of sham values line that perfectly places Grant as symbol of time in which the free labor ideology was becoming a fig leaf for a new plutocracy Grant s a much better symbol than Lincoln, whom some historians like to describe as a corporate or railroad lawyer that he often was, but the railroads of the 1850s weren t the monstrous and ungovernable conglomerates of late century Few scenes illustrate this ambiguity better than his reception in Newcastle, England, in 1877, at the outset of his post presidential world tour The working and middling classes of England had cheered the Union cause as the struggle of tradesmen and small farmers against an arrogant slave owning aristocracy, and thousands of workers from the North Country poured into Newcastle to see Grant that day He reviewed a procession of guilds and unions and workingmen s associations miners, plumbers, brass molders and finishers, carpenters and joiners, chainmakers, mill sawyers and machinists And there is poignancy in the tanners of Elswick parading past with a banner that read, Welcome back, General Grant, from Arms to Arts Grant was a tanner s son and he despised the trade, returned to it only when he had five mouths to feed and no other options He didn t want to be one of them I ve read that in her Four in America, Gertrude Stein, indulging a sort of solemn biographic burlesque, wrote the latent lives or alternative careers of famous Americans Henry James, who enjoyed reading military memoirs and in a spell of deathbed delirium thought he was Napoleon, is a general Grant is a religious guru Edmund Wilson found this bit persuasive, in view of Grant s majestical phlegm, an alienation in the midst of action, a capacity for watching in silence and commanding without excitement, and he cites a letter in which Sherman said that Grant s power lay in his simple faith in success, which I can liken to nothing else than the faith a Christian has in his Savior For me elements of Grant s character and life could to be arranged to suggest a po te maudit the irony, the contextual vertigo, being that Grant s alienation from and unfitness for the bourgeois hustle made him admire the hustle rather than scorn it Grant stirs ironic Baudelairean echoes, at least in me Baudelaire placed the solider among the few noble, that is immemorial and pre capitalist, occupations, alongside that of the priest and the poet to know, to kill, to create When we consider that Grant found easy what others found hard that he failed utterly as an entrepreneurial farmer, the typical profession of his male peers, but could administer and inspire the largest armies the modern world had then seen how can we fail to recall Baudelaire s The Albatross, in which The Poet is likened to a bird majestic on the wing but clumsily vulnerable on the hard ground of daily life, the cripple who can fly How can we read of Grant s imperturbability in battle, the concentration and self command he felt under fire, and not think of Baudelaire s Albatross Poet, who haunts the storm and laughs at the archer There is also a sartorial affinity, an imaginatively bridgeable distance, between the plutocratic president and the anarchist dandy, between the consummate Yankee and the poet who, in his partisanship of the Virginian Poe, disdained Yankees Though sometimes thought of as the most unkempt of our presidents, writes McFeely, Grant was, in fact, exceedingly well tailored, clad in the black frock coat of the nineteenth century power elite, usually from Brooks Brothers Baudelaire, for all his execration of the bourgeois, embraced the black frock coat as the outer skin of the modern hero, and might have been alluding to his own subtly tailored and soberly colored wardrobe when he wrote as for the eccentrics, who used to be easily distinguishable by their violent contrast of color, they content themselves nowadays muchwith discreet differences of design and cut than of color.But I feel a little silly trying to imagine certain of Grant s features his failures, his floundering impracticality, the listlessness and ennui and drinking that shadowed his unused energies as they might be manipulated into a Baudelairean persona of articulate alienation and mythopoeic guignon, when McFeely has so brilliantly portrayed those features in Grant s actual social context The historical Grant had no oppositional artistic mythos to sanctify his oddness he was desperate to catch up, and when he reached a high place, to stay there Ulysses and Julia Grant were common people who valued respectability, as their respective memoirs indicate his are about the two wars he fought so well in, to the exclusion of anything about his difficult civilian existence hers seem, at least from the excerpts McFeely provides, a genteel romance not unlike the memoirs of Elizabeth Custer, a sentimental fantasy of events in which horses are bonny steeds and her father s few slaves our old colored people a book in which her severely depressed husband s resignation from the army, under a cloud of alcoholic rumor, is recorded thus Captain Grant, to my great delight, resigned his commission and returned to me, his loving little wife This book is excellent social history Excellent political history, too I ve harped on Grant the man as representative of a cultural and economic era, but McFeely also places the Grant s administrations in a seemingly appropriate importance Grant oversaw the Federal government s gradual walk back from Reconstruction I had heard that he busted the KKK in his first term, which is true except that his Klan busting attorney general was appointed for unrelated reasons, and sacked when he tried to regulate the railroads pivotal Indian policy Grant was considered a liberal here, because he pushed policy in which Native Americans were to be resettled forced onto reservations and brainwashed of their religions and languages, and made Christian farmers the other side of the debate advocated wholesale extermination this is a terrible world and the beginnings of U.S overseas imperialism, trying to make the Caribbean a U.S lake, before the navy or the public was quite ready He spent a lot of political capital trying to convince Congress to annex the Dominican Republic and make it a state he thought blacks could be encouraged to emigrate there and boom the Negro Problem would be solved, and the United States would have a naval fortress in the Caribbean McFeely, and some other historians I ve skimmed, argues that Grant s presidency appears inconsequential because his main achievements were in foreign policy, and were aimed at the long game Grant laid the foundation for the twentieth century Anglo American alliance with a treaty that resolved all the old border disputes the U.S agreed to never invade Canada and secured some maritime restitution from the British during the Civil War Confederate commerce raiders built in Liverpool shipyards had decimated the American whaling and merchant fleets The epilogue of his memoirs is a choppy delirium of advice to the nation build a big ass navycoughdominate the waterscoughthe Civil War was insane but putting it off would have put us behind in the race to build empirescoughand we showed the world how badass and warlike we areUSA USA Still trying to get my head around this guy He won the Civil War for the North, and re established the Union which today has grown into the vastest consolidated power since the fall of Rome He fought some of the greatest campaigns in history was never defeated, and after the war was twice chosen by his countrymen as their President If there is not food for myth here, where shall we seek it His story is as amazing as Napoleon s, and as startling as Lenin s yet enigma he lived and enigma he died, and though occasion was propitious and circumstances were favorable, enigma he remains. J.F.C Fuller, 1932 Shoddy exploitation followed Grant right to the grave He was already the enshrined hero of a noble cause and the wayward antihero of sham values. McFeely doesn t quite pull off his Edmund Wilson impersonation but this book is still awesome Review to follow, if I can digest Grant s is one of the essential stories of the nineteenth century I love that during Grant s two year world tour Li Hung Chang and Bismarck both greeted him with something like I too fought and won massive wars and consolidated a future Great Power Welcome to the Club And in a bizarre upheaval of court practice, the Emperor Mutsuhito shook his hand


  3. Clif Clif says:

    Grant was a failure, repeatedly Right up until the Civil War everything he tried his hand at didn t work out He wondered about his future and how he could survive economically He had gone to West Point and had served in the Mexican War though not at a high rank Dropping out of the military, he ended up in Galena, Illinois selling leather goods under the direction of his younger brother.Then, events stepped in and the demand for trained officers for the Union Army meant anyone and everyone wh Grant was a failure, repeatedly Right up until the Civil War everything he tried his hand at didn t work out He wondered about his future and how he could survive economically He had gone to West Point and had served in the Mexican War though not at a high rank Dropping out of the military, he ended up in Galena, Illinois selling leather goods under the direction of his younger brother.Then, events stepped in and the demand for trained officers for the Union Army meant anyone and everyone who had been to West Point was needed Even then, Grant needed the assistance of his representative in Congress to get him appointed to a command.Once in charge of a body of men, he quickly demonstrated his military ability that, after several successes with the Army of the Tennessee, gained the attention of President Lincoln after the victory at Vicksburg He was dogged in pursuit of the Confederate Army, realizing that with the superior number of Union soldiers and in the face of determined resistance, the only path to winning the war was attrition and that had to produce victory before the resistance to the war in the north could bring some agreement short of unconditional surrender.With the Civil War over, Lincoln dead and President Johnson reviled as sympathetic to the South, the presidency was Grant s by popular acclaim.Before reading this book, my take on Grant s presidency was that he was often drunk and allowed corruption far beyond the norm William McFeely puts the claim of too much drinking to rest On only two occasions, neither of which involved his official duties, is there evidence of his having too much to drink As for corruption within his administration, there was a great deal particularly in regard to awarding Indian trading post concessions The Indians were notoriously defrauded, a practice curiously denounced by none other than George Custer of Little Big Horn fame Grant did not like sacking those he had appointed and either looked the other way when evidence was presented, or protected the wrongdoers after believing their professions of innocence Nobody claimed that Grant himself was less than honest.McFeely quite properly makes Reconstruction a major topic Grant was sympathetic to the plight of the freedmen who, though initially truly free to hold political office and live where and as they wished, were relentlessly pushed back into servitude and political impotence by white Southerners determined to restore antebellum conditions as much as possible Grant even went before Congress and read detailed accounts of the murder and mistreatment of freedmen, but was determined not to be seen as a military dictator by sending troops to enforce the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments that the Radical Republican Congress had passed while southern states were not in Congress to vote against them.In addition, Grant feared a guerrilla war in the South if he did commit troops He wanted nobloodshed added to the ocean spilled in the Civil War Though some of the southern states now had Republican governors who wanted to see justice done, and there were freedmen willing to form militias and some did so, the balance of power without federal troops made it impossible to achieve obedience to the new laws of the nation As the years of Grant s two terms passed and freedmen were steadily deprived of their voting rights, Southern statehouses went to the Democratic Party and the promise of the end of slavery was dashed It should be mentioned that Grant did have an attorney general for a short time, Amos Ackerman pronounced with a long A , who relentlessly pursued the KKK, but whose efforts ended with his departure.Grant was taciturn, seldom given to any display of emotion with laughter a rarity He was a man of few words though he expressed himself very well in writing McFeely highly praises Grant s book on the Mexican and Civil wars He was a loving and affectionate father and a devoted husband to his wife Julia He was a man of the common people and this was greatly appreciated by the masses who adored him.Because of his fraught early years, Grant felt great insecurity about his future, even after his time as president He craved financial success and in pursuit of it after leaving the White House, failed with a Mexican railroad investment, going hat in hand to a Vanderbilt to bail him out Julia had taken to White House life with gusto and the two of them felt so secure and comfortable there that a future anywhere else was depressing to both.No homebody, Grant, his wife and an entourage spent the two years after his second term travelling the world holding a hope that a third term might be coming, but it was not to be Republican loss of Congress and the readmission of the southern states changed the political scene On tour he was rapturously received by the working people of Britain Even in the South he was respected, not despised as Lincoln had been.Indian affairs and black white relations get a prominent place One realizes that Grant faced a terrible problem in what to do about the stubborn refusal of the South to allow black people to be full citizens, yet their abandonment after a great war in which hundreds of thousands had lost their lives with the specific purpose of freeing the slaves is shocking I read with disgust of the leading role that Grant s son Fred played in making life hell for the first black man admitted to West Point while Fred was an upperclassman But Ulysses S Grant was a good man and this is an excellent book about him


  4. Gerry Gerry says:

    We get to examine the life in whole of General Ulysses S Grant and our 18th President in this work Certainly no short task for authors who decide to undertake the biographical account of any person who held such a Military capacity followed by an election to the Presidency of the United States It is not my intent to make this a long review, so I will keep to points I personally found interesting within this book on Grant This book was published in 1981 and it was important to myself that I We get to examine the life in whole of General Ulysses S Grant and our 18th President in this work Certainly no short task for authors who decide to undertake the biographical account of any person who held such a Military capacity followed by an election to the Presidency of the United States It is not my intent to make this a long review, so I will keep to points I personally found interesting within this book on Grant This book was published in 1981 and it was important to myself that I read a book older in publication rather than newer The revisionism that has occurred in American History has been a degrading attempt to often paint things not as they were but rather what people would prefer to believe was the truth without examining the historical facts of the era to which they are reading and attempting to study for whatever the personal agenda may be socially.Hiram Ulysses Grant Ulysses pronounced Ul is is came from a working class family,on the successful side than the other way around His father was an effective storekeeper and tanner Ulysses attempted both and despised both attempts at working these functions He was a lousy accountant when he worked on the storefront side as a clerk He preferred to be alone and loved horses was considered the best professional equestrian in his 1843 class at West Point and he graduated 21 of 39 During his matriculation at West Point he grew to despise this as well his father had the appointment set, as he really did not know what to do with the young man that was his son He preferred to be alone while at West Point and preferred to read novels than conduct his studies this would have a profound impact on his written account later on the Mexican American War of 1846 1848 When Ulysses Grant s appointment was signed by U.S Congressman Thomas L Hamer he knew Hiram Ulysses Grant only by Ulysses and gave Grant his S as a middle initial based on his mother s maiden name Grant liked it and stuck with it for the remainder of his life After graduation from West Point he had hoped to be assigned to the Cavalry but was instead assigned to Quartermaster.The impact his Father had on him was never fully explored in this work as were other areas of his young life The author did make an honest attempt but, in my opinion, fell short in this one mere facet of the Generals overall life He did not earn favor with his Father and it seems there was muchnegativity that flowed from Father to Son than the author was able to explore In my opinion this is where is oft inability to beof a secure self reliant person originates He did have his personal success as we know in battle and he did have good children that loved both he and his wife Julia The family man in Grant and the author in Grant were both a success His Presidency was an unfortunate consequence of lack in ability to do in the White House what he had accomplished on the battlefield in two American Wars.There were contradictions that existed in General Grant that cannot be ignored On the one hand where he enjoyed being alone, after graduation from West Point and being married he never truly wanted to be alone Not wanting to be without his wife is perfectly understandable however, the contradiction continues when on the same day of his resignation from the U.S Army while posted to California he also wrote another letter accepting his promotion to Captain He was a depressed spirit during this posting in California and found comfort in the bottle he drank because he was depressed and not the other way around.Overall, in this book I came to feel sorry for the young Grant, respected highly the soldier capabilities of Grant, appreciated sincerely his family qualities, and was saddened at his inability and lack of desire to make Reconstruction what it was intended to be during his Presidency I came away believing that had President Lincoln not been assassinated, had President Johnson not been the turmoil runt that he was that Reconstruction would have been managed and most importantly enforced to the point of why the War Between the States had been fought for in the first place The country became stronger and had the outcome not been the conclusion it had been then the United States could not have fought as it had during the First World War but would have been less effective and possibly negligible during the Second World War as one United States of America.I recommend this book for its upfront honesty and ability absent of political correctness and other agendas of the life of General and President Grant


  5. Christopher Saunders Christopher Saunders says:

    Pulitzer Prize winning biography of the Civil War General and 18th President hasn t aged well considering the huge amount of Grant revisionism in recent decades McFeely presents the consensus narrative of Grant as a personal wash out, a butcher general who won the war through brute attrition tactics rather than strategy and a miserable failure of a President He s loathe to praise Grant for anything beyond perseverance and determination, presenting even his brilliant campaigns at Vicksburg and Pulitzer Prize winning biography of the Civil War General and 18th President hasn t aged well considering the huge amount of Grant revisionism in recent decades McFeely presents the consensus narrative of Grant as a personal wash out, a butcher general who won the war through brute attrition tactics rather than strategy and a miserable failure of a President He s loathe to praise Grant for anything beyond perseverance and determination, presenting even his brilliant campaigns at Vicksburg and Chattanooga as badly mismanaged and won largely by forces skilled subordinates, Confederate incompetence beyond Grant s control instead he focuses on near failures like Shiloh and the catastrophe at the Crater as if they re the sum total of his military leadership McFeely inexplicably devotes a twenty page chapter to the failed Hampton Roads peace conference while spending all of two on the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, for an example of how skewed his priorities are He s not entirely wrong in his assessment of Grant s presidency, but his near exclusive focus on corruption over the good faith, if only partially successful efforts to enforce Reconstruction and deal equitably with the Indians makes his portrayal hard to swallow Nor does his constant insistence that Grant was a frothing racist, which seems unfounded by the historical record Elegantly written and passionately argued, but presenting little of scholarly merit


  6. rmn rmn says:

    This is a fantastic biography and not just because Grant led a bizarrely incredible life but because of the author s not well hidden disdain for Grant no really, he kind of hates the guy Even so, it is exceptionally well written and focuseson the big picture of the United States during Grant s life and how Grant fit in to it rather than just a boring recitation of what Grant did everyday like such banalities as what kind of oatmeal he ate on some October morning in 1874 which many other This is a fantastic biography and not just because Grant led a bizarrely incredible life but because of the author s not well hidden disdain for Grant no really, he kind of hates the guy Even so, it is exceptionally well written and focuseson the big picture of the United States during Grant s life and how Grant fit in to it rather than just a boring recitation of what Grant did everyday like such banalities as what kind of oatmeal he ate on some October morning in 1874 which many other biographers tend to do and maybe you should take note of that for your next biography Mr Chernow.As for Grant, like many mid to late 19th century presidents Jackson, Lincoln, Garfield, etc , he was a Horatio Alger rags to riches story though the riches never quite really came with the slight twist that he was pretty much a failure at everything but war and drinking To say he lucked in to his success is a bit disingenuous because he was really good at killing soldiers, both his and those of the enemy, and he was really good at preparing and running a war , but without the Civil War, he would have just been a failed destitute farmer.When the war broke out, the Union needed trained military men and Grant fit the bill having graduated undistinguishingly and that probably isn t a word from West Point, having served in the army during the Mexican War though as a quartermaster, not even a frontline soldier , and having stayed in the army for a couple years after that though without rising at all through the ranks It s amazing, the Union needed men and he was a man But they didn t just need men, they needed men to lead so pretty much anyone with any military experience was made a General Thus all of a sudden Grant went from poor failed farmer to General in the Union army though one of hundreds I believe, and in charge of a nothing little regiment in the now Midwest.It was then that Grant became Grant While he started as a General in an out of the way location, he gradually won confrontations and battles and built up his reputation to the point that he became commander of the entire army where he was supposedly a brilliant military strategist with an ability to see the big picture ie we need to kill a lot of Southerners which seems at odds with his inability to succeed in private business The author lauds Grant for his ability to keep everything in his head and hand write all of his orders himself with little input from others.Anyway, you all know what happened in the war spoiler alert the Union won and Grant became the face of victory as the conquering General with the folksy ways and he rode the wave of popularity all the way to an ineffective presidency The eight years Grant was in office were marked by a failure to deliver real reconstruction or even try to and a cabinet filled with graft and scandal Maybe the country needed a kind of ineffective figurehead to heal over those years, but it seems like a wasted opportunity where someone could have created real change.Post presidency Grant toured the world, drank, and got swindled and you all should really read this book only to save his family by publishing his memoirs before he died which proved to be lucrative A truly amazing life.As for the author s interpretation, he paints Grant as a bit of a simpleton in everything but war He is almost astounded by Grant s success and yet has a lot of respect for Grant the General and Grant s ability to see many steps ahead The author s biggest criticism of Grant seems to be that he was a common man and yet left the common man when he became president, preferring to hobnob with the rich in his lifelong attempt to be a social climber and to be accepted by high society businessmen and perhaps to prove himself to his father It s quite a psychological profile.Anyway, the book is good Read it


  7. Jerome Jerome says:

    A critical, lively and well researched biography of Grant, often at odds withrecent portraits of the man McFeely s Grant comes off as simple, pragmatic, and unpretentious McFeely portrays Grant as an almost bloodthirsty warrior who had no problem with carnage and was generally insensitive to suffering While Grant was known for his simplicity and modesty, McFeely argues that this was a carefully crafted image and that Grant s presidential ambitions wereobvious than they seem He is A critical, lively and well researched biography of Grant, often at odds withrecent portraits of the man McFeely s Grant comes off as simple, pragmatic, and unpretentious McFeely portrays Grant as an almost bloodthirsty warrior who had no problem with carnage and was generally insensitive to suffering While Grant was known for his simplicity and modesty, McFeely argues that this was a carefully crafted image and that Grant s presidential ambitions wereobvious than they seem He is also critical of Grant s Reconstruction policies However, he does a great job telling the story of Grant s presidency and the drama of this particular time period McFeely portrays Grant s relationship with Lincoln in a critical light, arguing that Lincoln was always fairly skeptical about the general While probably true at first,recent research does suggest that Lincoln eventually grew to appreciate Grant s ability McFeely also blasts Grant for the Cold Harbor fiasco but never really covers Grant s own personal regret over that affair McFeely s treatment of Civil War strategy and Grant s contribution in this area also feels rather inadequate, and the the treatment of the campaigns isn t particularly in depth McFeely s treatment of Grant s presidency is a little dull, and dealswith the issues and controversies of the era than with Grant himself.While not always admiring of Grant s public life and military career, McFeely isfavorable on Grant s private life, such as his marriage with Julia and his obvious gifts as a writer How Grant produced his memoirs while suffering from throat cancer is one of the most interesting parts of the book.McFeely s writing can also be humorous here and there That every boy has the chance to be president is the official fantasy of the American republic and In May 1864 Ulysses Grant began a vast campaign that was a hideous disaster in every respect save one it worked A lot of times the author indulges in psychobabble, like McFeely s suggestion that Grant grew a beard due to sexual frustration, and there are some odd sentences that do stand out, like calling war a colossal sick joke and Although a Virginian, Thomas was not a cordial host and By the summer of 1876 there was no one around the White House who gave a damn about the black people and Since one of the reasons for war is to have an excuse to do some drinking, it is not surprising that there was an enormous amount of it done during the Civil War And a lot it quite speculative, like McFeely referring to a letter from Grant referring to a black boy and then arguing that it was William Jones, even though Jones was in his thirties at the time Of course, McFeely also argues that Grant did not care much about the situation of American blacks, despite his efforts against the KKK and his advocacy of the 15th amendment.At times, McFeely s writing is breezy Ulysses Grant in his throwaway lines in his throwaway life kept trying to get people to see the colossal sick joke All you do is take the nicest guy on the block the one who will not be diverted by dreams of vainglory or revenge or by the nonsense of masochism and knowing he is not good for much else, let him act on the bold fact that war means killing the guy on the other side, or at least scaring him badly enough so that he will quit fighting An interesting book with a rich narrative, although it can get a little stale and dense at times


  8. Steve Steve says:

    Grant A Biography is William McFeely s Pulitzer Prize winning 1981 biography of the Union general and eighteenth president McFeely is a historian and retired professor of history He has authored numerous books including biographies of Frederick Douglass and Thomas Eakins.Although considered a seminal work on Grant, this biography is sometimes criticized for being too harsh toward its subject and for relying too frequently on psychological interpretati Grant A Biography is William McFeely s Pulitzer Prize winning 1981 biography of the Union general and eighteenth president McFeely is a historian and retired professor of history He has authored numerous books including biographies of Frederick Douglass and Thomas Eakins.Although considered a seminal work on Grant, this biography is sometimes criticized for being too harsh toward its subject and for relying too frequently on psychological interpretation But while the author is quick to criticize Grant this former president certainly provides much to criticize , in the end McFeely s appraisal is reasonably well balanced.I see no fault in McFeely s psychological assessment of Grant, either What is a biographer s job if not to observe and fully assess his or her subject while distinguishing between fact and conjecture In Grant s case the task is all the larger due to his complicated and sometimes contradictory character And McFeely s judgment of Grant seems largely on the money.But while McFeely s biography keeps itself firmly centered on Grant, his few real friends and his cadre of astonishingly poor advisers, it is unwilling to stray very far to provide context Readers hoping to see the Civil War through Grant s eyes, for example, will be disappointed Although McFeely describes Grant s great battles, rarely does he clearly describe the setting or discuss the broader scene.What I ve rarely seen McFeely criticized for is his writing style There are great writers who decide to become historians, and historians who elect to become writers McFeely seems to fall into the latter category His biography does not flow like the narrative of someone whose primary gift is prose Itoften has the feel of a legal brief that has been re written by an English professor with a love for complex sentence structure.Although well written from an academic point of view, important messages and themes seldom jump off the page for the average reader More often, they have to be teased from the text Between the important nuggets of obvious wisdom are paragraphs of sometimes arduous supporting or even seemingly tangential detail.In general, if there is a simple way to make a point, McFeely will steer clear and find acomplex way of achieving the same result His text is dense and potent and requires the reader to progress at a slower than average pace for full comprehension.If this biography does not quite seem intended for the mass market, neither is its natural audience limited to historians and presidential scholars It is simply a comprehensive, old school book heavy on facts and light on extraneous image setting Rather than taking the time to animate his study, McFeely focuses on the daunting task of understanding how the failed businessman, the war hero and the strangely out of touch president could be just one man It is a task he performs masterfully.In the end I liked but did not love McFeely s biography of Grant Although it is comprehensive, detailed and penetrating most of the hallmarks of a great biography, in my view it is not consistently accessible or engrossing Nevertheless, this Pulitzer Prize winning biography provides a solid, thorough and revealing look at one of our most enigmatic presidents.Overall rating 3 stars


  9. Joe Kramer Joe Kramer says:

    So, I finally finished this book on Ulysses S Grant that I got for Christmas Damn, who knew this would be such an exhaustive read Needless to say this book was very, very, very thorough.Here s what I learnedhere s this guy U.S Grant from Ohio, he goes to West Point, fights in the Spanish American War, fairly standard stuff some interesting perspective on Mexico and our countries actions in that war.Than he goes back home, to Galena, IL, where for at least ten years he fails at basically So, I finally finished this book on Ulysses S Grant that I got for Christmas Damn, who knew this would be such an exhaustive read Needless to say this book was very, very, very thorough.Here s what I learnedhere s this guy U.S Grant from Ohio, he goes to West Point, fights in the Spanish American War, fairly standard stuff some interesting perspective on Mexico and our countries actions in that war.Than he goes back home, to Galena, IL, where for at least ten years he fails at basically everything he does, makes all sorts of bad decisions, bad business deals, screws up a lot of stuff, has no money, etc.Than the Civil War breaks out He s like hell, I was a captain the last time we were at war I should be at least that again if notit is the Civil War after all So he goes down, gets made a captain again, but just because there are so many bad decision makers at the start of the war he keeps rising through the ranks pretty soon he s a General, and the next thing you know this guy is leading the entire Union Army, sitting at the side of Abraham Lincoln crazy All in all those years of screwing up made him a better judge of people, that and he was a very effective communicator when it came to issuing orders and working hard so he wind up being a pretty good General and an effective tactician.Than for a couple of years he screws around in Washington he s still head of the Army overseeing a bunch of screwed up reconstruction policy Than, basically because he won the war he gets elected President where he oversees a bunch of really screwed up Indian policy and hands out a bunch of crooked deals to his war buddies, which people hate.Near the end of his life he goes on an around the world tour to places like Great Brittan and Japan, etc Then, even as he s dying from smoking ten cigars a day he manages to pen one of the most prolific general presidential biographies ever written, which saves his wife and family from bankruptcy upon its publication.Now he s the subject of a really bad riddle, on a bill that people are looking to break and a park in Chicago


  10. Jerry Landry Jerry Landry says:

    Though I didn t always agree with him or with his policies, I have to admit that at numerous times while reading this book, I would exclaim aloud, Poor Grant In some ways, Grant seems like the original hard luck kid Though ultimately a well known figure in American history, Grant could also have easily ended up as barely a footnote if that in our national story McFeely does an excellent job of taking the reader through Grant s life, providing a description of the times and events directly o Though I didn t always agree with him or with his policies, I have to admit that at numerous times while reading this book, I would exclaim aloud, Poor Grant In some ways, Grant seems like the original hard luck kid Though ultimately a well known figure in American history, Grant could also have easily ended up as barely a footnote if that in our national story McFeely does an excellent job of taking the reader through Grant s life, providing a description of the times and events directly or indirectly affecting and affected by Grant After finishing this biography, I found myself highly interested in learningabout Grant s administration and various characters who served in the Cabinet and as advisors to Grant For better or worse, Grant s is certainly one of the liveliest of presidencies that I ve read about thus far I would definitely recommend this book to history scholars and students but also think that casual readers would get a great deal from this book and its examination of one of the most interesting from obscurity to fame stories in American history


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Grant: A Biography ➥ [Ebook] ➠ Grant: A Biography By William S. McFeely ➯ – Centrumpowypadkowe.co.uk Winner of the Pulitzer Prize The seminal biography of one of America s towering, enigmatic figures From his boyhood in Ohio to the battlefields of the Civil War and his presidency during the crucial y Winner of the Pulitzer Prize The seminal biography of one of America s towering, enigmatic figures From his boyhood in Ohio to the battlefields of the Civil War and his presidency during the crucial years of Reconstruction, this Pulitzer Prize winning biography traces the entire arc of Grant s lifeAuthor Biography William S McFeely is the author of Yankee Stepfather, Frederick Douglass, Sapelo s People, and, most recently, Proximity to Death He lives in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.