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Grant

von Ron Chernow

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
1,548438,892 (4.5)62
The #1 New York Times bestseller. New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2017 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 shows 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. Named one of the best books of the year by Goodreads - Amazon - The New York Times - Newsday - BookPage - Barnes and Noble - Wall Street Journal… (mehr)
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When one sets out to review a book that is contrary and even contradictory to “conventional wisdom,” one must be very careful in stating facts, especially when one previously held some of the same thoughts prior. This book is clearly in this category. Chernow presents a Grant and his life actions that is markedly different from what is usually said about Grant. My own reading is that Grant has been notoriously underrated in service to the Lee legend.

For most of my life, Robert E. Lee has been considered the brilliant military leader, and Ulysses Grant is a drunken butcher. Consider, however, Lee fought most of his battles in Virginia and his two incursions into the North were failures. Grant, on the other hand, in his campaign to reduce Vicksburg crossed the Mississippi below Vicksburg into rebel country and cut himself off from his supplies, winning major battles at Jackson and Edwards Station before finally starving Vicksburg. The two biggest failures of these generals, Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg and Shiloh are revealing. Lee must have taken leave of his senses to order Pickett’s charge while Grant recovered everything lost during the first day in the second day at Shiloh.

Grand Strategy enabled Grant to oversee the campaigns of Sherman in the South and Sheridan in the west and administer the entire Union army, while he directly supervised Meade in Virginia. What did Grant do that the previous leaders of the Army of the Potomac did not do? They fought battles, he fought the war. Lee was not a grand strategist while Grant was a master. The clearest indication of this fact is that following the bloody and awful battle of the Wilderness, the Army of the Potomac came to a fork in the road: the left would take them back to the Potomac and safety while the right led to the South. The Army took the right fork. Proof of the Grand Strategist is found in the general acclaim Grant received as he toured the world after his presidency.

The period after the war, called Reconstruction, was strongly supported by the North with heretofore condemned Carpetbaggers and Scalawags who actually struggled to implement the 13th Amendment. Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox but the South continued the war under different means. It took the Civil Rights Act of the mid 20th century by Lyndon Johnson to finally impose the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments of the Constitution on the South. Sadly, through no fault of General and later President Grant, the North went soft on Reconstruction, and the United States paid dearly for it.

Grant’s presidency is commonly thought to have been a failure. Why? He believed in the goodness of people. His judgment in elevating Sherman and Sheridan demonstrated he could evaluate military folks. His willingness to believe the best in people led to a remarkable number of failures by the people he trusted both during his presidency and afterward. Nevertheless, his presidency had some excellent successes.

His drinking is something we will never really know this side of eternity. Chernow suggests that he had a peculiar failing in that one drink could transform him into an apparent heavy drinker. One thing to note: one way or another he accomplished great things.

Clearly, I’ve adopted much of Chernow’s thinking. His work reveals a meticulous researcher who is not afraid to offer thoughts he does not share. He also is frank in speaking of Grant’s shortcomings as a person who trusted too much. He also suggests ways in which General Grant slipped into facets of the political President Grant.

Do not think this book can be read in just a few settings. It is far too detailed for that and it is long. I am very grateful for the gift of this book. ( )
  DeaconBernie | Sep 16, 2021 |
The man who was Lincoln’s main military and policy instrument then ultimately his true political heir has been maligned as a martial brute to his supposedly noble opponent at the tale end of the American Civil War. Grant by Ron Chernow chronicles the life of one of—if not—the greatest general in American history.

As with many biographers, Chernow goes into generations of Grant’s family history—including alcoholism—as well as the personalities of his parents Jesse and Hannah who each shaped Grant for both good and ill. Much the biography covers Grant’s service in the Civil War and his Presidency, yet in the little over 100 pages that Chernow covers Grant’s life from his youth through West Point and career in the military including the Mexican War then his interwar civilian life. Chernow not only used these pages to chronicle the young Grant’s life, but also how the struggle of alcohol and his business naivete that would cause issues throughout the rest of his life. With the start of the Civil War, Chernow goes in-depth into how Grant his first command and then how he slowly progressed up the chain of command while dealing with the rebel soldiers but army politics. Then upon Grant’s ascent into the high councils of Washington, Chernow shows how he reassured Lincoln that he was his man and fully embraced his agenda. It was this adherence to Lincoln’s vision that ultimately led Grant to accept the Republican nomination in 1868 and his policy in the South throughout his presidency. Throughout the pages dedicated to Grant’s time in office while the scandals surrounding those individuals that he naively appointed and supported were covered but Chernow balanced it out with achievements of Grant and many of his outstanding cabinet members did during the eight years. Though devoting a little more space to the later years of Grant’s life than those prior to 1860, Chernow focused on Grant’s battle with cancer as he raced to write his memoirs then his legacy.

Chernow knowing the general view of Grant as an alcoholic that defeated Lee through manpower and resources then presiding over a scandalous presidency took his time to address during the biography via themes throughout. Grant’s battle with alcohol was a constant theme until the latter end of his presidency and post-presidency when it appears the presence of his wife Julia and Grant’s own determination essentially conquered the problem. Throughout the Civil War portion of the text Chernow examines Grant’s tactical and strategic thinking especially when he was facing off with Robert E. Lee in Virginia or more accurately tying down Lee’s army while the rest of Union forces crushed the armies opposing them and the will of rebel civilians. Chernow’s chronicling of the scandals of Grant’s presidency was firmly tied to Grant’s naivete with people and always supporting people who he believed to be his friends, something that made him a huge mark for flim-flam men of the Gilded Age. While Chernow’s biography could be seen as “revisionism” by today’s historical readers, it could also be seen as reversing the ‘Lost Cause revisionism’ that occurred during Grant’s own lifetime.

Grant is a fantastic addition to Ron Chernow’s chronicle of great American lives like George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. Chernow shows that while Grant was flawed like everyone else, his status today is beginning to return to where it was after he militarily reunited the country after being diminished by those who wanted to pretend the American Civil War didn’t happen. ( )
1 abstimmen mattries37315 | Sep 15, 2021 |
This was a fantastically written book.
Ron Chernow did a fantastic job in detailing Grant’s life: his occasional binge drinking, his resignation during the Mexican War, his strained relationship with his father, Jesse Grant, and his father-in-law, Colonel Frederick Dent, his rise to power during the Civil War, his close friendship with President Lincoln, and then Grant’s own later presidency.
In my opinion, Grant is one (or both) of two things:
1. he’s misunderstood by people
2. little is known about him
Ron Chernow’s biography on Grant is an enlightening book and biography about a man, general, and president whom so often is misunderstood and cast in a bad light.
I fell in love with this book - and with Grant’s overall personality - and I often found myself sympathizing with Grant’s plights and rejoicing in his successes.
I highly recommend this book! ( )
  historybookreads | Jul 26, 2021 |
This is a very important book about a very important person in American history who is often miscast and remembered incorrectly. Grant was complicated, as all human beings are, but in the end his sense of decency is what shows through. It shows in good ways such as his handling of the surrender of the terrorist Confederates at Appomattox but also in bad ways as in his naiveté in business dealings which ended costing him money and a lot of his well earned reputation.

Chernow is obviously a skilled biographer and his research is clearly exhaustive. It took me a while to read this book but it was well worth the effort I learned much I did not know about Grant and especially about the years following the Civil War, a period where so much that was won in the war was given away to marauding militias in the South which decided the rule of law and equality would not apply in their States (with their own personal "rights"). As Chernow notes, "Slavery had been abolished, but it had been replaced by a caste-ridden form of second-class citizenship for southern blacks, and that counted as a national shame."

As for our current day with the idiocy of the fictitious "Lost Cause' given us so much grief, let's let Confererate General James Longstreet take the stage. As Chernow writes, "They promulgated a view of the Civil War as a righteous cause that had nothing to do with slavery but only states' rights - to which an incredulous James Longstreet once replied, 'I never heard of any other cause of the quarrel than slavery.'" Indeed. And Grant treated Lee with a respect that was wonderful but in the end probably backfired. As Grant noted "Lee is behaving badly. He is conducting himself very differently from what I had reason, from what he said at the time of the surrender, to suppose he would. No man at the South is capable of exercising a tenth part of the influence for good that he is, but instead of using it, he is setting an example of forced acquiescence so grudging and pernicious in its effect as to be hardly realized." So yes, I am in favor of renaming my high school thank you very much.

I know there is little chance of this book being read across all segments of society but I truly wish it could happen. When you are immersed in the facts of the Civil War and Reconstruction leading to Jim Crow you can not reach a false conclusion. It is all there in front of you. But you have to make the effort.

I just saw Chernow speak at the National Book Festival and heard this book is going to be made into a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. I hope that maybe that can help get the story out about Grant and rehabilitate his image from that of a drunk, scandal ridden failure to that of a man of immense decency and empathy who did much to make this country better. ( )
1 abstimmen MarkMad | Jul 14, 2021 |
Thoroughly researched and brilliantly written. Well worth the time invested. ( )
  KateFinney | Jul 10, 2021 |
For all its scholarly and literary strengths, this book’s greatest service is to remind us of Grant’s significant achievements at the end of the war and after, which have too long been overlooked and are too important today to be left in the dark.
 
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To my loyal readers, who have soldiered on through my lengthy sagas
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(Introduction) Even as other civil war generals rushed to publish their memoirs, flaunting their conquests and cashing in on their celebrity, Ulysses S. Grant refused to trumpet his accomplishments in print.
On April 27, 1822, Ulysses S. Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, tucked away in the rural southwestern corner of the state near Cincinnati.
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The #1 New York Times bestseller. New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2017 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 shows 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. Named one of the best books of the year by Goodreads - Amazon - The New York Times - Newsday - BookPage - Barnes and Noble - Wall Street Journal

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