Penguin Pr. Oct. 2017. 1104p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781594204876. $40; ebk. ISBN 9780525521952. BIOG
OrangeReviewStarChernow continues his success from his best seller Alexander Hamilton, with this comprehensive account of Civil War general and U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant (1822-85). Some view Grant as a brilliant military tactician and influential if flawed politician; others paint him as corrupt and ineffectual. Chernow, utilizing thousands of letters, military records, and diary entries, creates a more complete portrait of the surprisingly timid Grant, who hated the sight of blood and understood that the thousands of men dying every day under his command were the only way to end what was, in his mind, a thankless and brutal war. Chernow's Grant is humble, quiet, and playful—moody in peacetime but a genius in wartime. As other historians have painted Grant as a raging drunkard, Chernow sheds light on Grant's lifetime battle with alcohol as a disease, rather than a vice. Admittedly, Grant's history as president is much less interesting than his military duty, and much of this volume is devoted to the Civil War. Grant was an inexperienced politician, and history has allowed the corruption that flourished during his time as president to overshadow the landmark civil rights legislation passed during his tenure.
VERDICT Don't expect a Grant musical, but this important work of American biography belongs on every library shelf. [See Prepub Alert, 4/17/17.]

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