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Grant Paperback – September 17, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393323943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393323948
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #602,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A moving and convincing portrait....profound understanding of the man as well as his period and his country. -- C. Vann Woodward, New York Review of Books

Clearsightedness, along with McFeely's unfailing intelligence and his existential sympathy...informs his entire biography. -- Justin Kaplan, The New Republic

Combines scholarly exactness with evocative passages....Biography at its best. -- Marcus Cunliffe, New York Times Book Review

About the Author

William S. McFeely, the Abraham Baldwin Professor of the Humanities, Emeritus, at the University of Georgia, is the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning biography Grant. He lives in Wellfleet and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

McFeely won the Pulitzer Prize for this work and rightfully so.
G. Zilly
William S. McFeely's book Grant attempts to be an objective look at the life of one of the most well-known of US generals.
bixodoido
When reading and then reviewing references McFeely used, many assumptions were made and facts were left out.
CW Nurse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Candace Scott on May 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
McFeely won the Pulitzer Prize for this book in 1982, but the conclusions he reaches about his subject have drawn fire ever since. Those sympathetic to Grant correctly point to errant assumptions and mistakes in character analysis. Most glaring is McFeely's insistence that Grant gloried in carnage, was insensitive to death and suffering, and was an incompetent chief executive.
Actually Grant was one of the most exquisitiely sensitive men ever born and was nothing like the 'butcher' that McFeely describes. However, the research in the book is oustanding and there are very few factual errors to be found. This contrasts markedly to Geoffrey Perret's recent 1997 Grant biography, which contained inaccuracies on nearly every page. McFeely is most solid in the period of Reconstruction, though he is usually overly prone to criticize the hapless Grant. Throughout many chapters, it seems the General can't buy a break.
McFeely's greatest admiration for Grant is contained in two areas of his life: his family relationships, specifically his loving marriage to wife Julia, and his abilities as a writer. McFeely leaves no doubt that he regards Grant's 1885 Memoirs as one of the great books ever written and the best part of this biography is in explaining the processes Grant used to produce such a masterpiece, while dying of throat cancer.
With its flaws and uneven treatment of Grant, McFeely's book cannot be considered definitive, but it is still the only complete biography of Grant written in the past 30 years. Perret's limping entry isn't even in the same league as this book, in accuracy, writing or research. To sum up: overly critical, but a must read for Civil War buffs.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 1997
Format: Paperback
As the author of a book on the Civil War and another on the Reconstruction era, I highly recommend McFeely's biography of Grant. McFeely is not only a fine historian, he is a first-rate writer, offering sharp portraits of Grant and the figures who surrounded him; clear, insightful expositions on important issues; and a compelling narrative. The great strength of this work is its coverage of Grant's rise to the presidency and his two terms in the White House--one of the finest portraits of this dramatic, pivotal era, filled with everything from Indian wars to staggering political corruption to the first great struggle over civil rights. The book is weaker on Grant's military career during the Civil War; as McFeely draws out information about the general's personal life, he seems to neglect both the details and the grand scale of Grant's achievements on the battlefield. All told, however, this remains a classic biography--and a pleasure to read.
--T.J. Stiles, author of IN THEIR OWN WORDS: ROBBER BARONS AND RADICALS
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on March 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
William S. McFeely's book Grant attempts to be an objective look at the life of one of the most well-known of US generals. It is a good account, full of details into Grant's life and quick to dispel many of the popular myths (both positive and negative) which have been spread about the general. The treatment of the Civil War does not take up the majority of the work, but instead comprises a part of the career of a man who went from tanner to army man to President to writer, with various stints as a failed businessman and bored peacetime army officer in between.

In his quest for objectivity, I think McFeely has overstepped his bounds just a bit. He greatly downplays Lincoln's affection for Grant, claiming that the President was never quite sure if he could trust the general. Early on, this may have been true, but the fact is that Lincoln many times defended Grant when rumors came to his ear, saying he liked Grant because "he fights." Also, McFeely calls Grant's wilderness campaign a "hideous disaster," and insinuates that Grant did not care much about the colossal loss of life at Cold Harbor. The overwhelming fact about the Wilderness Campaign is that it was, indeed, very costly in terms of human life. Still, Grant got things done. He defeated Lee--something McClellan and the other commanding officers could not do. Grant did what he had to do, terrible though it was.

Still, these are matters of opinion, and the book remains a wonderful treatment of Grant. One of the things I like most is that is gives equal treatment to all aspects of Grant's life, not just the Civil War. I learned a great deal about the Grant administration, which is usually regarded as one of the most corrupt in our nation's history.
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65 of 85 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is one seriously irritating book. There may be relatively few factual errors (at least, compared to Geoffrey Perret's work on Grant, a masterpiece of unintentional humor,) but McFeely's work is riddled with what I can only believe are deliberately insulting mischaracterizations and misrepresentations, tiresomely pretentious writing, and amateur psychoanalyzing of the most obnoxious sort. McFeely is particularly fond of quoting the words of Grant or his wife on some matter or another, and then proclaiming that--no matter how clear their meaning may have been to us poor dumb non-historians--what they were REALLY saying and thinking was something else altogether. If there is anything I can't abide, it's a biographer who persists in reading a subject's mind and putting words into his or her mouth and thoughts into his or her head that were never said and never thought. McFeely not only obviously believes he is much smarter than Grant (hah!) but more percipient than his readership, as well.
If this book is worthy of a Pulitzer, then I trust my next grocery shopping list will earn me a Nobel Prize for Literature.
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