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Cigars, Whiskey & Winning: Leadership Lessons from Ulysses S. Grant Hardcover – September 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

"Ulysses S. Grant was a perceptive and surprisingly modern manager," writes Al Kaltman. "A pragmatist who learned from his own and others' successes and failures, he brought new dimensions to strategic planning. He was adept at seizing and exploiting opportunities as they presented themselves, and he boldly shattered paradigms long before the term paradigm had made its way into the management jargon."

Kaltman uses Grant's military career, beginning with his enrollment at West Point through his early successes in the Civil War to his eventual command of the entire Union Army, to illustrate 250 basic principles of business success, from "Bureaucrats do the dumbest things" to "You can't stop the clock." In an afterword, Kaltman considers how President Grant failed to live up to the principles of teamwork and planning that led General Grant to victory, with a resultant career as chief executive whose legacy has been less than stellar.

From Library Journal

Kaltman uses Civil War general and U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant to represent a model of 250 management "lessons." There are no complex management theories here; Grant, a poor man who failed at several businesses, initially looks like anything but a model of good management. But with the start of the Civil War, he rejoined the army and slowly rose through the ranks to be commanding general of the Union forces by war's end. Kaltman, the senior executive vice president of MBNA Insurance Services, arranges the lessons chronologically, so the reader follows Grant through his life. Grant's lapses of judgment?i.e., Shiloh and Cold Harbor?are shown in a positive light. His scandal-plagued presidential years still contained a series of accomplishments, and he remained an honest and forthright man, even if his appointees were not. This book makes interesting reading and will certainly appeal to Civil War specialists and scholars. Recommended for both public and academic libraries.?Mark E. Ellis, Albany State Univ. Lib., GA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall Press; F First Edition Used edition (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073520022X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735200227
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Here is another of the "leadership lessons from" volumes which seem to be published in an ever-increasing number. I was curious to know what Kaltman had to say about one of our nation's most successful generals who is also generally viewed as one of our least successful Presidents. The bulk of the book focuses on Grant the general but Kaltman adds a brief section in which he attempts to place Grant the President within an appropriate historical context. The material is organized within 11 chapters, ranging from "Seize Opportunities: April 1822-August 1848" to "Always Do What's Right: February-December 1865." Kaltman then provides a Conclusion ("The Quintessential Grant") and an Addendum (The aforereferened "Grant's Mismanaged Presidency"). The net result is much more than a portrait of Grant. Indeed, Kaltman has carefully examined all manner of primary sources from which he has selected what he considers to be those "leadership lessons" which are most relevant to our own time. (I wish he had included a Bibliography.) At the heart of this book is an essential paradox: the same leadership principles and strategies which enabled Grant the general to achieve great success are precisely the same which (for various reasons which Kaltman suggests) Grant rejected or failed to use while serving for two terms as President. I am among those who consider Grant's Personal Memoirs a literary masterpiece as well as one of the most valuable historical accounts of the American Civil War. Therefore I was not in any way surprised by the eloquence of Grant's remarks which Kaltman generously and skillfully includes together with appropriate comments by others best-qualified to comment on Grant, both in terms of his military leadership and qualities of personal character.Read more ›
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jim Sullivan on November 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent summation of the lessons learned by Ulysses S. Grant in an easy-to-read format. The book is well-paced and divided, following Grant's victories and defeats in military, civilian and personal battles from his childhood through the Civil War, his presidency, and Kaltman even manages to draw cogent and sobering lessons from his death. For each chapter the author gives a short story and draws a lesson from it. Each lesson is less than two pages, giving the reader an ability to read for a few minutes at a time during a busy day without losing his or her place or train of thought. Because of the length Kaltman does not run his point into the ground like many management books. His simple explanations stand alone. Kaltman's innovative format is now being emualted by many management authors.
Don't be fooled by the easy read--this book contains serious lessons that I will ponder again and again and wish I had learned earlier in life. The oft-maligned Grant is a worthy hero, and Kaltman has extracted invaluable morals from his experiences. If the author's bias that Grant deserves a better place in history than he currently enjoys shows through in some places, it is a sentiment I share. And so will you after you read his book. I recommend this book as a gift for anyone struggling to learn the skills to survive and thrive in the battlefield of business.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Chris Chong on February 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am regarded as good manager, have little time to read and no knowledge of the Civil War--when I received this book for Christmas I promptly put it on the shelf, and only began flipping through it two months later. Now I wish I had read it years ago. The lessons are concisely worded, and beautifully illustrated with examples from the life of a man who knew his fair share of hardships, successes and failures. It was refreshing to read a book on management written by a successful manager with useful advice for adults. Many of the management books that gather dust on my shelves are full of platitudes, cute little mice and invented quotes from fictional characters. Far more interesting to learn with the General who saved America than to speculate what a starship captain or a mouse might do at a board meeting. Grant could not rely on plot contrivances or cute beatitudes to save the Union; my respect for the author's skillful way of drawing lessons from each experience grew with each page.
As did my respect for the apparently much under-appreciated Ulysses S. Grant (whose name was not actually Ulysses and if you want to know more read the book). In fact, I was inspired enough to go looking for the memoirs of the man. It's a 22-volume set, which I look forward to reading when I retire. The advice in Kaltman's book, however, will undoubtedly help me to reach a much higher level before I do.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on February 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read this immediately after finishing U.S. Grant's Personal Memoirs. Mr. Kaltman's book lessons and examples are almost entirely taken from that source.
Some of the several hundred management lessons the author extracts from Grant's masterpiece provide interesting insight. Many are, however, superficial, obvious or an outright stretch. I found some that drew lessons belied by a deeper and fuller knowledge of the historic example of Grant from which the author sought to extract his "evidence."
Actually, my impression was that this book would be more useful to a young reader who had a cursory knowledge of history and was looking for a framework for decision making.
For serious managers, I suggest reading Grant's Personal Memoirs. Not only great history, but Grant's skilled and honest telling of his Civil War story is accessible and provides many direct lessons buttressed by a much deeper set of facts. In fact, I plan to keep Grant's Personal Memoirs on my "Manager's Shelf."
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