American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant

Random. Oct. 2016. 864p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781400069026. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781588369925. BIOG
Presidential historian White (A. Lincoln) offers a comprehensive biography of Civil War general and 18th U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant (1822–85). The author situates Grant's life amid the turmoil of the 19th century, yet makes Grant accessible to modern readers, while rescuing his place in history from "lost cause" historians. Drawing upon the full 33 volumes of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant as well as hundreds of letters written to his wife, Julia Dent Grant, a portrait emerges of a man deeply devoted to his country, family, and friends. This trust was sometimes abused by acquaintances for their own gain, tarnishing Grant's reputation and destroying his finances, especially during his second term. The author unconvincingly reassesses Grant's drinking habits. What contemporaries saw as evidence of drunkenness, White dismisses as the consequences of accidents or illness. Readers interested in other perspectives of Grant should see Jean Edward Smith's Grant or H.W. Brand's The Man Who Saved the Union.
VERDICT This thoughtful and sympathetic portrayal will be appreciated by Civil War enthusiasts and readers of presidential history alike. [See Prepub Alert, 4/3/16.]
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